Phenix City City Manager Wallace Hunter was terminated immediately Tuesday night on a 3-2 vote of the council.
The surprise move came at the end of the scheduled meeting. Council member Gail Head made the motion to fire Hunter and it was seconded by Chris Blackshear, the only council member elected citywide. Head, Blackshear and Jim Cannon voted to fire Hunter. Mayor Eddie Lowe and Council member Arthur Day voted against the firing.
The vote fell along racial lines. Hunter is black and he was supported by the two black members of the council, Lowe and Day.
Hunter, reached late Tuesday, said he was not surprised by the move.
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"It has been hell for the last couple of months," he said.
Hunter said Head and Blackshear had been working against him.
"Blackshear told me I was following the charter too much, and that is our law," Hunter said.
A year and a half ago, Phenix City residents elected four new council members and a new mayor. Blackshear said he has been willing to give Hunter a chance.
"This council felt that we needed to give everyone an opportunity to become a part of the vision we wanted to establish for our community moving forward," Blackshear said. "However, in my opinion it has become apparent after 19 months in office that not everyone has bought into or is willing to buy into our long-term vision we are trying to establish."
Asked if he was referring to Hunter, Blackshear said yes.
Hunter has worked for the city for more than 30 years in a variety of leadership roles from fire chief to assistant city manager and city manger. He has been city manager since 2008.