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City, community leaders react to city manager’s resignation

Columbia community and city leaders are both responding to city manager Mike Matthes’ resignation.

The city manager submitted his resignation to the City Council Tuesday. Deputy City Manger John Glascock will serve as acting city manager until the council considers an interim appointment.

“Mike has guided the city of Columbia for the last 7 years helping us develop our strategic plan, addressing social equity and working to improve our economy,” Ward 6 Councilwoman Betsy Peters wrote in an email Tuesday. “He has taken dead aim on our high unemployment rate especially among our African American citizens and has identified ways to address disparity. Finally, with our community partners, Mike has helped us all move forward to improve the lives of the citizens of Columbia. I thank him for his years of service to the city and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Race Matters, Friends, which had harsh words for the city manager at Monday night’s City Council meeting, applauded Matthes’ resignation and also called on Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton to step down “given his performance in the last two weeks” and “his inability to understand community policing.”

“He should just retire, resign and move on,” Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, Race Matters, Friends President said. “The writing should be on the wall. We’re going to keep calling for him to leave as we have been over the past two years.”

Mary Ratliff, president of the Columbia chapter of the NAACP, said the NAACP has supported the city manager.

“He is the only city manager who has reached out the African American community in such a way,” she wrote in an email Tuesday. “His hiring of Jim Whitt, Glenn Cobbins and others help pull the African American community into the main stream.”

The Columbia Police Officers Association issued the following statement,

“While the CPOA and City Manager Matthes have not always seen eye to eye, we can certainly appreciate the difficulty he faced in representing over 120,000 constituents with conflicting interests. The CPOA looks forward to working with Mr. Glascock as Acting City Manager in the coming months. We also hope the CPOA, along with our other city employee groups, may have the opportunity to offer constructive suggestions for the selection of the next City Manager. Columbia’s city survey routinely shows that over 80% of Columbia’s citizens list public safety as their number one concern. We are confident the City Council will consider this as they select Columbia’s next City Manager. On behalf of the men and women who stand in harm’s way to protect us from evil.”

The Columbia Professional Firefighters also issued the following statement,

“The Columbia Professional Firefighters were surprised to hear the news of the city manager’s resignation today. While this comes as a surprise, we are committed to working with whomever fills this role, along with City Council and our administration to continue to progress on our agenda. We wish the city manager the best in his future endeavors.”

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