Phenix City community relieved after Wallace Hunter's reinstatem - WRBL

Phenix City community relieved after Wallace Hunter's reinstatement

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Phenix City community members say their support helped get Hunter reinstated Phenix City community members say their support helped get Hunter reinstated
PHENIX CITY, Ala. - Phenix City Manager Wallace Hunter is back in his office after being fired two weeks ago. Community members say their strong support helped reverse the decision.

When councilors Gail Head, Chris Blackshear and Jim Cannon voted to fire the city manager, they said they felt there needed to be a change, and that Hunter just wasn't making things happen. Hunter, and some of his supporters, believed the decision was personal.

Mel Long is a Phenix City barber and president of Citizens for Unification, Revitalization & Economic Development, and he believes the firing was racially motivated. "Racism does not work in this city anymore," he says. "We are not going to tolerate none of this racism in Phenix City at all."

Dr. Johnnie Robinson with the Concerned Clergy of Phenix City has a different opinion. "I thought it was a human dignity issue," says Robinson, "and to destroy the dignity of a person because of how you feel is no reason."

That's why they banded together to host a town hall meeting of more than 700 people one week after Hunter was ousted. When that didn't result in action, the Concerned Clergy went straight to council in Monday's work session.

The next day, Hunter was reinstated.

Robinson says, "I think that you lose your vision when you're working on a mandate to do something crazy, and I think the craziness overruled the real growth that we need and deserve."

"We elected them to come in government and make it better for the city, to make the city grow," adds Long. "They're supposed to help Wallace make decisions to help the city grow and get jobs and stuff like that."

They say they're just glad the community's input could help the city council do what was right.

Councilor Jim Cannon was the keystone in council for the vote. After voting Hunter out, Cannon switched his vote the second time around.

Robinson says he spoke with Cannon between the two votes. He says, "I just wanted to know from his standpoint, do you really believe that Mr. Hunter went south so fast in 19 months? And I believe he had to look over that in his heart, and I believe that the spirit of God prevailed."

Long says, "I love the reverse decision, and I take my hat off to Jim Cannon for changing his mind."

Jim Cannon and Wallace Hunter did not respond to calls for comments, but Mayor Eddie Lowe says he is glad the city could save some money and hopes they can move forward.

The community will host a "Welcome Back Wallace" town hall meeting June 16 at 7 p.m. at Gaines Chapel.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.

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