Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker announced Friday afternoon after a closed-door meeting of City councilors that City Manager Maurice Jones will not be returning to his role when his contract ends Dec. 7. Jones has held the title of city manager for eight years.
“Over the past few years, City Council and the city manager have worked earnestly to try to reach agreement on a mutual vision for the City and the best ways to implement that vision,” Walker’s statement read. “However, it has become clear to us that what our city needs at this critical juncture is a fresh perspective and a new direction.”
As city manager, Jones acts as the chief administrative officer for the City and oversees many services — including the administration of the Charlottesville Police Department and distribution of permits for group gatherings.
Recently, Jones and the City government have come under fire for CPD’s “stop and frisk” and for the City’s handling of the deadly white nationalist demonstrations last August. The City was on Charlottesville’s response to the rallies authored by former U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy.
In a statement, Jones heralded the city’s successes during his time in City Hall.
“I am particularly proud of our efforts to address issues of poverty in our City – our Growing Opportunities workforce development program, the construction of the Crossings to help the homeless transition from the streets, and the significant increase in our investment in the Affordable Housing Fund which has led to the construction and preservation of hundreds of affordable units,” the statement read.
Jones also said he would cherish his time as an employee.
“I am blessed to call Charlottesville my home and the people here have been incredibly supportive of me since I arrived in this beautiful city some 25 years ago,” Jones said. “I will be forever grateful for the encouragement I’ve received from so many folks from different walks of life and the great experiences we have had together.”
Additionally, Deputy Chief of Police Major Gary Pleasants retired Friday afternoon. Pleasants gained notoriety during the Ku Klux Klan rally in Charlottesville last July, when he defied orders by using tear gas to disperse protesters. This move drew backlash from local activists, especially after Heaphy’s report alleged that Pleasants told the police chief that “you are damn right I gassed them, it needed to be done.”
While Jones’ contract officially ends in early December, Walker said Council and Jones may discuss an earlier separation date.