Rochelle Small-Toney is accused of remodeling her office without council approval and hiring a friend.
"I'm not sure any manager could be effective after this relentless media pressure," said Mayor David Combs, referring to an article in the local newspaper where the accusations surfaced. "I believe having the public's trust is critical in managing the city."
The mayor of @cityofrockymtnc addresses accusations over his city manager Rochelle Small-Toney. He said an investigation into her past in savannah proved the issues there were political and that there was no wrongdoing. #ABC11 pic.twitter.com/5soTKrdV3q— Josh Chapin (@JoshChapinABC11) January 29, 2019
Residents packed city council chambers Monday. There were too many people to fit into the room so they filled overflow rooms and the lobby.
Mayor Combs addressed the audience with Small-Toney sitting next to him before public comment.
Packed house here in @cityofrockymtnc for council meeting. Folks in overflow rooms as well. Lots of talk here about practices of city manager Rochelle Small-Toney. She’s in attendance tonight. #ABC11 pic.twitter.com/Pdu339IJCM— Josh Chapin (@JoshChapinABC11) January 28, 2019
He said she was hired because of her 35 years of experience in government, some of that recently in Savannah, Georgia.
There, Small-Toney is accused of hiring a friend as the city's emergency management director. Combs said a retired police chief did a full investigation, which revealed the issues were political in nature and that there was no wrongdoing.
"If you decide to keep Ms. Small-Toney, you will be signing yourself up for years of more resignations, more media scrutiny, less grant funding and less business downtown," said Clark Covolo.
Others supported her.
"Let's get back to the agenda of building an inclusive and shared prosperity for all Rocky Mount residents," said Susan Perry Cole, representing Women for Growth. "I want to conclude this unfortunate episode focused on the journalistic lynching of our city manager."
Combs said there were renovations and repairs that needed to be done to City Hall that were approved in the 2019 budget -- some of those repairs happened to be in the city manager's office.