Several members of the Goldsboro City Council support City Manager Scott Stevens and have no plans to remove him from his post.
Sylvia Barnes, local NAACP president, called for the manager's resignation during Monday's city council meeting because Stevens declined to take action against the police chief for personal social media activity in support of President Trump.
Police Chief Mike West has been accused of offending some residents and NAACP after a Trump likeness photo of West was added to his personal Facebook site and the words, "Making Goldsboro PD Great Again." West has apologized and said his activity was never intended to offend anyone.
The issue has led to more than a month of talks between city leaders and the NAACP in an effort to find common ground and resolution.
Those talks also led city staff to craft a detailed plan of action that will lead the city to seek national accreditation for the police department, an updated social media policy and diversity training. The pursuit of national accreditation comes with a cost of hiring an accreditation supervisor, estimated at about $80,000 a year in salary and benefits, an enrollment fee of $11,500 and annual renewal costs of $4,000 each year.
The city action plans failed to satisfy the NAACP, which primarily wanted West disciplined by the city manager.
Stevens, who listened Monday to Barnes call for his resignation, said Tuesday he doesn't believe anything he can say will help the situation.
"These kinds of things go along with the manager's world," Stevens said. "I don't think anything I add makes it better. I don't think that for me to comment helps the situation."
The only way a city manager can be removed is through a majority vote of the city council. Mayor Chuck Allen said that's not going to happen.
"The majority of the city council would not be in favor of that," Allen said. "Those votes are not there."
Allen said that overall Stevens is a good manager in moving the Goldsboro forward. Allen is focusing his efforts in finding ways to create a more inclusive and unified community.
"How do we get around this and move forward to make things better?" Allen said. "The sooner we can all put this behind us, the sooner that we can figure out a way to move forward."
Councilman Gene Aycock supports the manager and his to not discipline the chief. Stevens declined to take action after determining that West did not violate any city employee standards.
Aycock will not support any action against the city manager.
"They have a right to ask what they want to ask for," Aycock said of the NAACP. "Right now, we don't think there's a reason for him to resign. The council's going to stand behind what we have decided in the past."
Aycock said residents within District 6, which he represents, have shared with him their support of the police chief and the manager's decision. No one within his district has spoken against the chief or said anything derogatory about the decisions of Stevens or the council, Aycock said.
Councilman Mark Stevens also said he supports the city manager and views him as an effective leader in managing city affairs.
"He's not perfect, but he's good at what he does," Stevens said. "If we had to lose him, I think, we would be in a very detrimental situation . . .
"I am not going to support anything at all that brings disruption to the city and its employees and the citizens and the staff with the city. I will never support anything that will divide, and I will never support anything that will divide a city."
Stevens said it's a "sad situation" that the NAACP and city leaders are unable to find common ground on the issue.
"I feel really bad and kind of upset that we have organizations of the NAACP and the city fighting against each other when they should be working together to help and better the world," Stevens said. "I wish that they would come together and find a headway and figure out what would be the best path to go forward."
Stevens said his focus will be on trying to build a better community.
"I'm just trying the keep the peace," he said. "We're stronger together than we are apart, and that will always be my focus."
Councilmen Antonio Williams, Bill Broadaway, Bevan Foster and David Ham were not available for comment Tuesday.