City Manager Chip Boyles resigned Tuesday after eight months in office citing
“public disparagement” from Mayor Nikuyah Walker and members of the community affecting his personal health and well-being.
“Continuation of the personal and professional attacks that are occurring are not good for the City, for other City staff, for me or for my family,” Boyles wrote in his letter of resignation. “Therefore, it is best that I resign effective at the end of this month.”
Conflict arose over a month ago between Boyles and Walker after Boyles’ firing of former police chief RaShall Brackney. Boyles terminated Brackney a week after a survey by the Virginia Police Benevolent Association showed that 71 percent of CPD officers did not feel supported by their leadership.
Boyles’ decision to fire Brackney angered Walker. Walker, who was first elected in 2017, and Brackney, selected for her position in 2018, are the first two Black female mayors and police chiefs of Charlottesville, respectively.
“There’s only been a handful of people who’ve been working on breaking down institutional racism,” Walker said in a social media post following Brackney’s firing.
In a closed session that lasted over an hour Tuesday, city council members discussed Boyles’ stepping down. At the end of the meeting a vote was taken and council members unanimously accepted his request to resign.
Later that night, Walker held a Facebook Live to discuss the resignation and said she believes Boyles should have been fired.
Other council members, such as Councilor Heather Hill, saw things differently. Hill characterized Boyles’ resignation as a loss for the Charlottesville community.
Vice-Mayor Sena Magill was also disappointed by Boyles’ decision. Magill said that Boyles brought many effective changes to the city, such as expanding equity throughout Charlottesville.
Support for Boyles was a point of contention for Walker, who was unhappy that other councilors did not denounce his firing of Brackney.
Boyles’ resignation is the most recent in a long line of changes in Charlottesville’s upper-level management. Boyles is the fifth city manager for Charlottesville since 2018, the same year Walker began her tenure. Walker announced last month that she does not plan to run for reelection, citing Brackney’s firing as a principal reason. Throughout her term, Walker has garnered criticism for an investigation into misuse of public funds as gifts through gift cards, as well as a poem posted on Facebook describing Charlottesville as a rapist.
Many council members have voiced concerns about the hostile nature of city government in Charlottesville, citing personal attacks during council meetings. According to Councilor LLoyd Snook, the animosity and bitterness at council meetings has gotten out of hand, which he believes contributed to Boyles’ feeling the need to step down.
City Council intends to use a search firm to find a permanent replacement for Boyles, a task that some council members believe may have to wait until next year. One firm contacted by the council in the previous year believed that the city government was simply “too dysfunctional” to effectively hire good talent. In the meantime, Hill said she is hoping to fill the role in a short term capacity.