Jacksonville mayor responds to reports on new city manager

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 7:41 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A city here in Eastern Carolina will soon be under new management.

The City of Jacksonville voted to make Josh Ray its new city manager, effective Sept. 12, 2022.

The city says Ray is a 20-year veteran of public service and is a credentialed manager of the National Association of Professional City and County Managers.

“We’re excited to come back home to the great state of North Carolina,” Ray said about his appointment.

However, several changes in Ray’s recent job history have raised questions about the new hire.

Ray served as city manager for Shelbyville Tennessee for just over a year before being released from the position in March, according to Thunder Radio and the Shelbyville Times-Gazette.

Ray said he then signed a contract for a town manager position with the Town of Signal Mountain in Tennessee.

However, an article from Thunder Radio in Manchester, Tennessee alleged Ray wrote an email to Manchester Mayor Marilyn Howard about the Manchester city manager position.

Ray says the change was for family reasons.

“I negotiated a contract with the mayor of Signal Mountain and then, unfortunately, my godmother got sick, ended up passing away in June... and so all these things happened at that time,” Ray said.

Ray added that he told the mayor that he didn’t think he could commit longer than three years and further explained his position. In Ray’s words, the mayor then said they could terminate Ray’s contract if he wasn’t 100% committed.

Signal Mountain Mayor Charlie Poss told WITN he had no comment on Ray.

Jacksonville Mayor Sammy Phillips said a number of applicants applied for the city manager job before the list was dwindled down to five.

Phillips says the city council voted unanimously for Ray and that he received a thorough line of questions about his job history during the interview process.

“The council was agreeable that the jobs that he posted as his references and the reasons for leaving... we were satisfied with his responses,” Phillips said.

Jacksonville City Council members declined to comment on the unanimous decision to hire Ray.

According to the Chattanoogan, Ray wrote an email to Manchester Mayor Marilyn Howard inquiring about becoming city manager just six days after signing his contract as town manager with the Town of Signal Mountain.

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