A new pick for the city manager at the City of Fort Myers is coming under fire.
The NAACP has major concerns over the selection of Marty Lawing to succeed former Saeed Kazemi as the city manager of Fort Myers.
The concerns are about what they say are racist and sexist decisions throughout Lawing’s career.
Lawing’s contract was the topic of discussion at a special meeting at the City of Fort Myers on Wednesday.
Lawing’s contract was approved 4-3 after a lengthy, somewhat heated debate and public comment about his past. Lawing’s compensation package will be $230,000 a year.
Lawing has not taken his seat as the new city manager but his past worries some.
“His track record shows that he don’t serve all people. His track record shows that he serves pretty much the predominantly white community. His track record shows that he has no relationship and has had no relationships with the Black community,” said James Muwakkil, president of the Lee County NAACP.
Some city council members say Lawing’s past was not presented to them by the city’s consultant during the hiring process.
“Don’t let this council if they do hire him, Do not let me or nobody on this council take you backwards. And I’m telling you, they tried to take us back, and we got the fight,” said Fort Myers Councilwoman Teresa Watkins Brown.
The NAACP points to two lawsuits. One is a wrongful termination suit filed by a Black woman in Guilford County, North Carolina where Lawing last served as county manager.
The suit alleges discrimination and retaliation.
Lawing is not the main target of the lawsuit, but it claims he upheld the termination.
The other suit claims Lawing tried to put a landfill near a Black community.
“That is concerning and that is not what we need for our city to move forward in a progressive manner,” said Jacquelyn McMiller, with the Uplift Foundation and co-chair for the NAACP Political Action Committee.
Lawing denies he has discriminated against anyone or has a bias.
He said people can do the research and see both sides of each issue for themselves.
“I’ve been in office six months I think I have six lawsuits already filed against me, naming me, not for anything I did but just because I am the mayor,” said Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson.
Anderson said he stands by his choice and believes Lawing is the right choice for the city.
“I have complete confidence in Mr. Lawing that he will serve the city, the entire city very well,” Anderson said.