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Woolley withdraws from interim city manager appointment, citing personal reasons

This has been updated with more information.

Marc Woolley, recently appointed interim city manager of Charlottesville, has backed out, the city announced Tuesday, just one day prior to his start date.

“I am writing to inform you and your fellow council members that after careful consideration and in consultation with my family, I am withdrawing my application to become the Interim City Manager of the City of Charlottesville,” Woolley wrote in a letter to Mayor Nikuyah Walker on Nov. 23. “This was not an easy decision for me, and I want to thank the Charlottesville City Council for the opportunity and wish the residents of Charlottesville all the best.”

City Council met for over three hours on Tuesday in an emergency closed session to discuss Woolley’s withdrawal and discuss potential candidates for city staff positions.

Woolley, who faced questions from The Daily Progress earlier this month about his resignation from two jobs and multiple lawsuits he was named in, did not respond to multiple requests for comment by press time. Woolley told NBC29 on Tuesday that his withdrawal had nothing to do with the city or its politics, and said the job just wasn’t the “right fit” for his spouse and children. Woolley, who is from Philadelphia, said the city and councilors had welcomed him with open arms. Woolley most recently served as Business Administrator in the city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Walker said Woolley first notified her of his withdrawal "verbally" Sunday Nov. 21, citing “personal reasons.” She said the city had tried to get a public notice out prior to the Thanksgiving holiday but was unable to.

“We apologize to the community for that confusion,” Walker said during the meeting “We did want to give more time than the notification that happened today. And so we have known for a little over a week now; this was the first opportunity for us to get together to explore other options and kind of just brainstorm where we are and where we’re headed.”

Councilor Heather Hill said the city is considering going into a contract with a firm for interim services. “We’re going to be working through [city] staff on what the best and most efficient process would be for that. We’ve made no decisions on that matter,” she said. Hill said she expects more information will be available to the public within the next two weeks.

The interim city manager will be responsible for putting together the budget for fiscal year 2023 and working on the completion of the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Until the interim city manager position is filled, deputy city managers Ashley Marshall and Sam Sanders will perform the duties of the city manager.

The city has said it is slated to begin a public search for a permanent city manager in April 2022.

Woolley’s withdrawal follows the departure of five city managers in just over three years. Chip Boyles resigned in October following criticism for his decision to fire Police Chief RaShall Brackney, who has filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and said she intends to sue the city. Former city manager John Blair left the city in January 2021 to take a job in Staunton, after filling in for Tarron Richardson, who resigned as city manager in September 2020. Richardson recently filed a First Amendment lawsuit against City Council and some city staff members. Mike Murphy served as interim city manager before Richardson was hired in May 2019, after City Council decided not to renew Maurice Jones’ contract in May 2018. Jones was City Manager for eight years.

When Woolley was appointed earlier this month, he responded to questions about his track record. In April 2017, Woolley was appointed chief operating officer for Salt Lake City, Utah’s Redevelopment Agency, but Mayor Jackie Biskupski withdrew the appointment three days later after the Salt Lake Tribune reported on Woolley’s departure from two jobs and being named in multiple lawsuits. At a Nov. 7 meeting announcing his appointment, Wooley defended his work history and said the lawsuits were dismissed.

“I stand by my work. I stand by all that I’ve done. And I’m ready to defend it. And I will defend it and have defended it in the past. But as far as anecdotes … that have not seen the light of day in a courtroom where I’ve been disposed of, there’s nothing to say about them,” he said.

Walker said at the time that Woolley had been a finalist for a deputy city manager position. After the departure of former City Manager Chip Boyles, City Council discussed Woolley as a candidate for the interim city manager position and decided to offer him the job, at a salary of $205,000.


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