Public forum focuses on city manager search and race

By Brian Entin - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The Savannah City Council has bickered amongst themselves for weeks, but the people who sent them to council had a turn Wednesday night.

A town hall meeting was held at the Savannah Civic Center on Tuesday.

Much of the discussion focused on the city manager search.

"I'm wondering what happened? What went wrong with the council? Is it because we have a black candidate for city manager or what is it," one woman said.

The majority of the public comments were about the city's search for a new city manager and that both of the final candidates are African American

"Racism is alive right here…not only in city council but right here in this Savannah Civic Center," a citizen said.

Race was a major issue of discussion, but so was the very public bickering between council members over the past month.

"Please come together because the youth in Savannah are listening," Elizabeth Lesaclooch said.

Many citizens said they too are paying attention. They said they are upset the council is spending so much money on what some have called a tainted city manager search.

"I want to know why we spent $30,000 for a national search for a candidate and then tossed out the results," Larry Wilkes said.

The mayor emphasized that everyone needs to come together despite their differences in opinion.

"I am here to say it is possible to disagree on the specifics of how to reach a goal to become a better Savannah without becoming a divided community," Mayor Otis Johnson said.

The mayor is expected to give the council a position paper regarding the city manager search on Thursday.

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