Goldsboro has a council- manager form of government. The mayor and city council, therefore, set policy and hire a city manager to implement those policies. A manager is given specified statutory authority, including hiring and firing of employees. With more than 400 employees within the City of Goldsboro, the city manager plays a vital role in the lives of those who work for the city but also all those living in Goldsboro.
With such daunting responsibility placed upon the city manager, it seems that every elected member would want to have a voice in hiring a manager. We thought so. But then came Monday night when Councilmen Antonio Williams and Bevan Foster announced that they did not attend any of the interviews of the final four candidates for the city manager position. The council approved the letter of understanding with, and the hiring of, Tim Salmon. The vote was 5-2, with Williams and Foster casting the opposition votes.
On what information did the two dissenters rely to cast their ballots for the people they represent in the city’s 1st District (Williams) or 4th District (Foster)? Williams said he read the candidate interviews and decided that the majority of the council would outvote him because those members like to vote in their friends. So, he chose not to participate.
Foster flat said that the interviews were a waste of his time. “I, too, was not at the interviews because it was a waste of time; and I hate to waste my time on something that was going to turn out this way anyway. I don’t agree with the hire, as well.”
Agree or disagree, it was not Foster’s or possibly Williams’ time to waste. Their time is the public’s time, and it was compulsory for them to sit in those meetings with the city manager candidates, ask the questions they believed were most important to the people they represent, and speak out against the majority when they disagree. In the hiring of Tim Salmon, the people of the 1st and 4th districts not only were not represented, they had no voice at all.
When elected officials view themselves as oracles of the people they represent rather than employees of the districts, it is time for those officials, and the public, to decide if a change is in order.
Agree or disagree with Williams and Foster, the bottom line is they failed to do the work they were hired to do by the people of the 1st and 4th districts. If while on the job, an employee fails to do the work or live up to the expectations of the employer, that person may be reprimanded or even fired. What, then, will the people of the 1st and 4th districts — the employers — decide to do with their employees?