Editorial: NAACP’s call for resignation premature

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 16, 2019

The state of government in Spencer is volatile and steps leading to former Manager Terence Arrington’s resignation are not fully understood by the public.

For that reason, calling for Sylvia Chillcott’s resignation from the Spencer Board of Aldermen based on an unknown, profane word is premature.

The Salisbury-Rowan NAACP called for her to resign as a result of her role in a 70-second audio clip that has been leaked publicly and begins with Arrington telling Chillcott that there’s no need to use profanity. Chillcott responded that Arrington is “enough to make somebody use profanity.” Later, Chillcott’s wife is heard in the recording using a profane word (the word is not a racial slur).

The audio clip was the spark that lit an already tense situation, and Arrington resigned last week after just six months on the job.

It wasn’t Arrington’s first time resigning early from a local government management position. Two years ago, in Darlington, South Carolina, he resigned early as county manager after it became clear that the board did not intend to renew his contract. Arrington also publicly criticized the Spencer town board after a negative performance evaluation and submitted his own proposed severance agreement in March. He encouraged the board to “take it on the chin” and decide whether it wanted his help.

None of that excuses the use of profanity by a board member toward an employee, even during a heated debate. Chillcott should apologize to Arrington if she has not already. But Arrington may be partially at fault for the deteriorating relationship. Members of the Board of Aldermen have been relatively tight lipped about his departure, but it’s clear some were unhappy with his performance.

There are two sides to every story. The public would benefit from knowing what led to the recorded phone call and the back-and-forth that preceded the recording’s start, particularly if it’s the cause for calls to resign.

Meanwhile, as we await more information, we support the NAACP’s efforts to investigate hiring practices in Spencer. Bringing diversity to local government will only improve the services offered to citizens.