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Covington City Manager Resigns

Covington City Manager David Johnston resigned his position, a move that was accepted by the city commission on Tuesday night.

The River City News is working to gather details on events that preceded Johnston's unexpected departure from City Hall.

He was hired in July 2017, half a year into the term of then-new Mayor Joe Meyer. Previous City Manager Larry Klein had been pressured to resign several months earlier and was replaced by an interim city manager, Loren Wolf, at the time.

On Tuesday, the city commission was set to conduct the business of a caucus meeting where issues are discussed ahead of a legislative meeting typically held the next week in which votes are cast.

Originally on the agenda for discussion was the budget for the next fiscal year which begins July 1 and must be approved by the end of June and which is typically led by the city manager with input from other department heads.

When the commission gathered, Johnston was not present and the commission swiftly went into executive session, a legally-permitted private discussion, to address personnel matters.

A spokesperson for the city would not confirm that Johnston was the target of that executive session, but Johnston walked outside City Hall where The River City News had a reporter present. Johnston declined to comment on the topic of the executive session and would neither confirm nor deny that he had submitted his resignation.

The River City News previously reported that in May 2016, Johnston resigned in Maple Valley, a city of just over 22,000 people, citing different visions for the community following the election of a new city council. In December of 2016, he was announced as the new city manager in Claremont, New Hampshire, but failed to reach an agreement on a contract, according to a report in Valley News.

He was hired in Covington at an annual salary of $140,000. Johnston was the city's second choice at the time. Bryan Long, former city manager of Lawton, Oklahoma, declined the position when offered, RCN reported at the time.

The city commission on Tuesday reconvened after about ninety minutes in executive session to vote on accepting Johnston's resignation, approving terms of his departure, and appointing Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith as interim city manager.

All votes were unanimous.

Neither the mayor nor the commissioners offered public comment during Tuesday's vote accepting Johnston's resignation.

This story will be updated when more information is known.

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Photo: An empty table reserved for City Manager David Johnston before the city commission caucus meeting on Tuesday (RCN)

Slideshow Images & Captions: 
David Johnston (provided)
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