Embattled city manager resigns

Marchell Adams-David

Marchell Adams-David

By Kevin Spradlin

Embattled Hamlet City Manger Marchell Adams-David has resigned. Her last day of work will be Aug. 22.

Adams-David submitted her letter to Mayor Bill Bayless today. Bayless said he was out of town but City Clerk Tammy Kirkley opened the letter and notified Bayless.

Adams-David, 44, will take a post in Raleigh as assistant city manager for community. Her salary will roughy be doubled to $157,500. In Raleigh, she will oversee police, fire, emergency services, parks, housing and neighborhoods. She’s expected to begin her new job by the end of August.

She has been city manager for 13 years and employed by the city of Hamlet for more than 20 years.

Adams-David’s selection for the Raleigh position was announced Monday by Raleigh City Manager Ruffin Hall. Adams-David fills one of three deputy city manager spots. Combined, the city received 254 applications from 17 states for those positions.

The resignation letter, Bayless said, indicated that “she enjoyed her time working in the city of Hamlet.”

It was Kirkley who filled in for Adams-David while Adams-David was on personal leave from April through early July following the death of her husband, Bryan Edward David, in January.

During that time, Adams-David was honored by the Richmond County NAACP with the Humanitarian Award in May and, in June, saw daughter Brianna Michelle David graduate from Richmond Senior High School.

Councilman Pat Preslar called it “a bittersweet day,” noting he’s glad Adams-David and her family can move forward but lamented the loss her departure creates for the city of Hamlet and its residents.

“I don’t blame her at all” for moving on, Preslar said. “I sort of knew this was probably going to happen but I’m still in shock right now. I stand behind her 100 percent and I always will. It’s going to be Hamlet’s loss and Raleigh’s gain. She’s taken a heck of a beating for doing her job. She left on her terms. Nobody scared her off.”

Preslar said Adams-David offered a work ethic “you’re unaccustomed to seeing these days.”

Adams-David’s job has apparently been at risk since the November 2013 election. A month prior to that, then Hamlet City Council members voted to offer Adams-David an employment contract with “indefinite terms.” She also garnered a raise, but that was not tied to the contract itself.

Mayor Jeff Smart and Councilwoman Abbie Covington each chose not to seek re-election  and Councilman Dewey Brower was voted out of office. Incoming council members Eddie Martin and Jessie McQueen were, rumor had it, not supporters of Adams-David.

By May, the new council majority had hired a new city attorney and forced the reconsideration of the contract to Adams-David. Attorney T.C. Morphis Jr. declared the contract invalid because, among other things, it didn’t have a definite length of time.

At the May 13 public meeting, Councilman Tony Clewis motioned to offer Adams-David a new contract, with the noted deficiencies corrected. Councilman Pat Preslar seconded the motion but it was defeated, 3-2, with Martin, McQueen and Councilman Johnathan Buie voting against the second contract offer.

It is presumed that Kirkley will again be appointed as acting city manager. Bayless said a search to replace Adams-David, the city’s top appointed official, “will begin soon.”

As city leaders seek an independent investigation into the administrative operations of its police department, Bayless said the city was comfortable moving forward with interim Chief Rodney Tucker in that capacity until such investigation was completed.

In an attempt to reach Adams-David before 4 p.m. Monday, the Post was told she was out of the office until Tuesday.

From the city of Raleigh website:

The Assistant City Manager for Community serves as liaison to the following departments: Police; Fire; Emergency Communications; Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources; and Housing and Neighborhoods, plus the Office of Emergency Management. While Ms. Adams-David will assume her City of Raleigh duties later this summer, she will assume duties as liaison to the Fire and Police departments on January 1. This will allow her to focus on the merger of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation Code Enforcement, Community Services Dept., and Community Development Dept. into the Housing and Neighborhoods Department.

“Ms. Adams-David is ideally suited to serve Raleigh in the capacity of Assistant City Manager for Community due to her wealth and breadth of experience working as a City Manager as well as her success with community building,” Mr. Hall said.

As Hamlet’s City Manager, Ms. Adams-David, 44, led the relocation and restoration of the landmark Hamlet Passenger Depot, which helped the city re-brand itself – Hub of the Seaboard – and instilled a sense of pride of place.

For several years following the tragic 1991 Imperial Foods Processing Plant fire that took the lives of 25 workers, Ms. Adams-David oversaw the South Hamlet Revitalization Strategies Project to bring the grieving community together. The project resulted in not only improving the community’s appearance, but more importantly its sense of hope.

Along with the Passenger Depot, another cornerstone of Hamlet’s identity and history is the Hamlet Opera House. Ms. Adams-David orchestrated the efforts to begin the restoration of the facility into a multipurpose community center that honors the railroad town’s history while promoting the arts.

The North Carolina native was named Richmond County’s 2014 NAACP Humanitarian of the Year. In addition to her professional involvement, she serves on of the North Carolina Arts Council Board of Directors and is a member of the United Way’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program for Richmond County.

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