Salem City Council reacts to surprise force-out of city manager

Mayor describes atmosphere as contentious

SALEM, Va. – Salem City Council members reacted Tuesday to a decision to force out the city manager, describing a contentious atmosphere that left people upset.

Council members asked city manager Kevin Boggess for his resignation Monday night, and he agreed to submit it. They accepted it with a 3-2 vote.

John Saunders, Bill Jones and James Martin wanted him gone. Mayor Randy Foley and Vice Mayor Jane Johnson voted for him to stay.

Martin said in a statement that they wanted the change because they don’t share the same vision for Salem, saying, as they discussed “past and present goals, objectives and overall philosophy in managing the city,” … “differences became more pronounced.”

Martin added that Boggess was “very professional” throughout the discussion. They initially were meeting to talk about an annual performance evaluation for Boggess and the assistant city manager.

Foley said the atmosphere was argumentative and council members were agitated.

He believes there’s no reason why Boggess should be removed.

“It’s very disappointing. I think Kevin’s done an outstanding job. There’s no objective evidence that justifies taking this action,” Foley said.

He thinks the reasons given were “petty.”

He thanked Boggess for helping to get Salem through the recession and for spurring development in the city.

“I think Salem is headed in a great direction,” Foley said. “Can the next person help us achieve it? I hope so.”

Boggess said in a statement, in part:

“Working in Salem began as a great career opportunity for me and throughout my time here, it has been a tremendous experience.”

He spent 11 years with the city of Salem and said it is a phenomenal community.

His last day will be Feb. 15. The city will have to search for his replacement. Foley said there hasn’t been any discussion of who the candidates may be.

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