PORTSMOUTH — Less than one year into his term as 4th Ward Councilman, Andrew McManus announced his resignation from Portsmouth City Council during its meeting Monday, Oct. 12.
“I remember when I ran how excited I was to come in and clean the streets and do all these things for Portsmouth,” said McManus nearing the conclusion of the session. “Then I found myself in this seat, slowly losing the joy.”
That loss of joy originated with Council’s decisions to enforce a mask mandate and attempt to decriminalize marijuana possession, he said, negative comments from the public regarding these moves withering away at his original excitement for the position.
“It started to slowly deteriorate, I started to feel almost a feeling of dread for when I would go to Council,” said McManus in an interview with the Portsmouth Daily Times. “It’s the right time for someone else to come in.”
Taking office Jan. 6 after defeating former 4th Ward and Mayor of Portsmouth Jim Kalb in the 2019 General Election, consensus among interviewed Council members in the aftermath of McManus’s decision was one of shock.
“I didn’t see it coming,” said Mayor Kevin Johnson. “I felt like Councilman McManus was doing a good job representing his ward and I had no indication that he would be resigning.”
“I don’t want to see him resign, but whatever reasons he has is up to him,” added 5th Ward Councilman Edwin Martell. “I can understand needing to step back…. It’s definitely a shocker.”
Effective Oct. 31, the day where McManus will officially step down as Councilman, Council will have 30 days to notify the public, accept applications, schedule interviews, and ultimately select the next Councilperson.
Further complicating the matter Johnson said would be the fact that the next official will likely need unanimous support. Four votes are required for Council to pass any legislation or appoint new officials but missing two council people means a 4-0 vote is required. McManus will not have a vote since he will no longer hold office and 6th Ward Councilman Thomas Lowe, who has not attended Council since May 26 due to illness, will likely be unable to cast his vote.
“This could pose quite a challenge if there are differing views on Council, which we’ve had in the past,” said Johnson.
1st Ward Councilman Sean Dunne said in a previous interview with the Portsmouth Daily Times that vacancies within Council prevented the passage of the city’s recent attempt to decriminalize marijuana possession. Missing the key final vote, Dunne believed Lowe would have supported the measure if present during the Sept. 28 session.
With his resignation, McManus joins retired 2nd Ward Councilwoman Jo Ann Aeh and Kalb as recent council people who have left the position during their elected term. Aeh retired in June 2019 after refusing the city’s required insurance through the Public Employees Retirement System, a monthly cost of $800.
Kalb had resigned during a provocative Feb. 2018 Council session following criticism of city leadership’s handling of the investigation into allegations of physical violence former City Manager Derek Allen. Proven to be false, Allen would also resign during the same meeting.
Planning on throwing his hat into the ring, Kalb would like to resume talks with Council regarding his plans to clean up the city if elected. According to the city website, Council candidates must have held residence in the ward for at least six months and lived in Portsmouth for at least three years.
“I had intentions of being on there when I ran,” said Kalb, who served Portsmouth for over 20 years and would hold the seat for the remainder of the term. “I’m excited about the opportunity to serve again.”
No longer holding the title, McManus still wants to serve his community albeit through different functions. One idea he’ll continue to pursue is to make a more centrally located food bank in Portsmouth.
“I truly do love helping the community,” he said. “I hate the politics, but I love helping the community. It would be crazy for me not to still invest my time.”
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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