Jacksonville city manager’s past raises concerns

Jacksonville council and community members respond to city manager’s censure
Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 7:16 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 10, 2023 at 7:36 PM EST
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The City of Jacksonville hired Joshua Ray as city manager back in September despite a string of controversy with Ray leaving one manager position for another in Tennessee.

City Manager Joshua Ray was censured last month by the International City/County Management Association for expressing interest in a Manchester, Tennessee city manager position after he had already accepted a position as town manager for the Town of Signal Mountain, Tennessee.

Ray accepted the Signal Mountain position in April of 2022 and was expected to start in June, but in May of 2022, he wrote a letter of interest for a city manager position in Manchester, Tennessee.

Jacksonville city officials say Ray told them about the events and, after interviews, was voted the best person for the position.

However, the news doesn’t sit well with the all in the community.

“My concern was this: The City of Jacksonville - we paid to recruit the best candidate for city manager. Now, if something was pending or suspension was pending, I think the taxpayer should have been aware of this,” said Jacksonville resident Carmen Spicer.

WITN attempted to speak with Ray and Phillips on Friday. Both of them were unavailable for interview.

The mayor issued a statement saying,

“When the interview was done, we felt that we made the right decision. We did know the possibility. We figured, at the time, that we made the right decision. He was the best candidate. He had the energy that we needed to go forward. He’s been doing a great job since we’ve had him, and I just think we’re going in the right direction,” added Councilman Brian Jackson.

Ray was selected from a field of 32 candidates that were selected by a hiring consulting agency working with the city.