Galesburg Council takes city manager removal question off the table at special meeting

Mike Kramer
Galesburg Register-Mail
Galesburg City Manager Gerald Smith.

The Galesburg City Council voted to take no action regarding the employment or removal of City Manager Gerald Smith during a special meeting Monday.

The decision passed 6-0, with one abstention, and was the subject of a lengthy public comment period, with some speculation that Smith’s potential removal was racially motivated. Smith, who was appointed last November, is Galesburg’s first Black city manager.

“Last night’s meeting was not the first time the public has spoken to the treatment of Mr. Smith … and some of the rumors out there in the community,” said Galesburg Mayor Peter Schwartzman.

Schwartzman added that he believes he, some councilmembers and Galesburg were not properly apprised of the special meeting’s purpose.

“Frankly, until the meeting started, I had no knowledge of the desired action or the rationale behind it,” he said.

Galesburg City Council members Heather Acerra, Wayne Dennis, Bradley Hix and Evan Miller called the meeting Friday afternoon.

Schwartzman said Monday’s removal of the action item regarding Smith’s employment does not preclude the possibility of similar efforts in the future.

He also lauded Smith’s performance as city manager to date and expressed confidence in Smith’s ability to move the community forward.

“During his time here … he’s done a very admirable job,” said Schwartzman. “He’s endured some resistance, and much of that, I believe, was unjustified. He’s been providing new ways of putting the city in a positive light, such as a branding campaign and a retail expansion campaign.”