RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — Riviera Beach council voted unanimously on Wednesday to change a settlement agreement with the former city manager Jonathan Evans, allowing him to come back and work for the city.
Although it’s far from a done deal, many in the audience felt this was a big victory.
"I’m so happy," Riviera Beach resident Erika Davis said. "It’s like winning a million dollars."
When the motion passed, council received a standing ovation from the audience.
Ever since Evans was fired for unspecified reasons, many residents have been trying to bring him back. Those efforts included a recall petition to remove the three council members who voted to fire him. All three have since been voted out of office.
With a new board, community member’s expressed their hopes that their voices be heard.
"Give the people what they want," Riviera Beach resident Lloyd Brown said.
The city has not had a permanent city manager since Evans’ firing in September 2017.
"It’s a great night for the city of Riviera Beach and our citizens," Mayor Ronnie Felder said. "I think Jonathan is on his way back, we just have some stuff that we have to make sure legally we have a clean slate when he comes back."
Former Councilwoman Lynne Hubbard, who voted to fire Evans and who lost her re-election bid 26 percent to 74 percent in March, sent a letter through her attorney saying the city should not hire Evans back because it would violate the agreement.
But that didn’t put a damper on celebrations at the council meeting and the efforts to bring Evans back.
"Thank God," said Riviera Beach resident John Miller.
It is the first step in a set of several motions that have to be passed in order for Evans to be brought back.
Step one, which passed on Wednesday, was to remove a clause in the settlement agreement that stated Evans could never come and work for the city again. That agreement was the result of a lawsuit filed by Evans. Part of the settlement was a $190,000 payment.
Evans will now have to sign that new agreement, allowing him to come back and work for the city.
Then the council will have another special meeting on Monday where they have to motion to be able to enter into negotiations with Evans.
Does Evans want to come back? In a recent conversation with Contact 5 he said he would be open to the idea.
Although it was just one step of many before Evans can be brought back, to many Wednesday marked an important change in the city.
"I’m excited that we finally can move forward and right a wrong," Councilwoman KaShamba Miller-Anderson said. "I think the community spoke."