Richard “Foster” Hughes, II became the City of New Bern’s Director of Parks and Recreation in 2017. On May 11, 2021, he was appointed as the Interim City Manager. Foster Hughes was swore in during the Board of Alderman (BOA) meeting with his wife Carla by his side on September 14.
During the BOA meeting on August 24, Alderman Aster made a motion “…to hire Foster Hughes as our permanent City Manager with a salary of 165,000 a year plus a $500 a month vehicle allowance and also ask Mr. Hughes to work as quickly as possible to locate a Assistant City Manager and all of this will be effective at the September 14 meeting.” The vote carried 6-1 with Alderwoman Harris disagreeing with the process of hiring the City Manager without allowing other candidates to apply for the position.
It’s noteworthy that during the Petition of Citizens portion of the September 14 BOA meeting, James O. Woods, Jr. expressed his concern “about the selection of the City Manager’s position. I don’t have anything against Mr. Foster Hughes. I think he’ll be a good City Manager, however, governing takes two parts. It takes the citizens and it takes you all and it seems to be like all of the important decisions that this board makes that affects us as citizens, you guys make it behind closed doors without input from us. Transparency, I keep hearing that word thrown around, and you guys aren’t being transparent. If the process is not in place for me to participate, I didn’t have a problem with that, all somebody had to do is pick up the phone and tell me that. But for me to hear it in the streets that Mr. Hughes has been selected as the City Manager, I thought is a disservice to every citizen and myself. I don’t have a problem with Foster, I work with Foster. I think he’ll be an outstanding City Manager, however, I asked to be part of that board for a reason. Because when I look around this room, I see no one in a leadership position except for one that looks like me. One. And apparently, words that you guys say to us as citizens of New Bern, don’t mean anything…I would like in the future that we work together. This is a partnership. My father always told me, actions speak louder than words and your actions have spoken very loud to the citizens, especially citizens look like me in the City of New Bern.” Alderman Best apologized to Mr. Woods for not informing him of the selection.
On a side note, New Bern Now had the pleasure of working with Foster Hughes during our first Earth Day event and he and the Parks and Recreation staff were more than accommodating. I wish him well in his new position as City Manager.
By Wendy Card