Acting City Manager: Will 'Mo Jo' have the mojo?
City Council is expected to approve next week the appointment of Maurice Jones as Acting City Manager, following the announcement that Gary O'Connell will step down after nearly 15 years in the position.
A former NBC29 sportscaster, Miller Center fundraiser, and City communications director, Jones has been an assistant city manager for two years with a focus on neighborhoods.
Under Charlottesville's council-manager form of government, the five-member City Council directs policy but leaves day-to-day operations to the City Manager.
Outgoing Manager O'Connell came under fire about two years ago for pushing a controversial pipeline plan concocted by the Nature Conservancy that includes building a new dam in the Ragged Mountain Natural Area. After some investigative reporting and a mayoral counter-press toward dredging the existing reservoir, O'Connell began retreating from his "full steam ahead" position to the point that he issued a sort of stop-work order on the dam.
But now O'Connell moves to the other side as the director of the Albemarle County Service Authority. That means he changes hats but gets to keep a seat on the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority that was held by Gary Fern, the man O'Connell succeeds on the ACSA.
The big question now is whether Jones–- who, by virtue of his new position, gets a seat on the board of the RWSA–- will have the nerve to stand up for the mayor and Charlottesville citizens against the pipe-line dream of his former boss.
–file photo by Jen Fariello