Clayton town manager resigns just months after controversial appointment

The Clayton town manager resigned Monday night, just four months after being appointed to the nearly $200,000 job in a controversial vote criticized as a “buddy-system” hire.

J.D. Solomon, a longtime consultant to the town, was appointed manager Jan. 4 after having served as interim manager since Sept. 1, 2020.

The permanent post became effective Feb. 1 at an annual salary of $196,000, according to the town.

“Mr. Solomon has pulled us trough a very dark time in the town of Clayton, and his service to us is very much appreciated,” Mayor Pro Tem Jason Thompson said after a two-hour closed session Monday night. “We have accomplished a great deal in this time.”

The council voted unanimously to appoint Rich Cappola interim town manager. He previously served as deputy town manager and has more than 10 years of municipal experience, including four years with the Town of Clayton.

JD Solomon
JD Solomon

Mayor had criticized permanent appointment

The Town Council voted 4-1 in January to appoint Solomon to the position full-time, even though he didn’t originally apply for the job and the town was reviewing other candidates, The News & Observer previously reported.

“I’m not in favor of this,” Mayor Jody McLeod said then. “I don’t think it’s a wise move. I think it’s blowing money.

Council member Avery Everett, who voted against the appointment, called the decision ”shady” and a “buddy-system” hire, noting the town had paid a consultant $18,000 to help find a permanent manager.

Solomon stepped in after then-Town Manager Adam Lindsay resigned in August. Lindsay received a severance payment of about $173,000, his annual salary, The N&O reported.

Solomon, a 30-year resident of the town, has served on the town Planning Board and Clayton Cultural Arts Foundation and chairman of the Johnston County Economic Development Commission according to a town news release.

“We have made good progress on tough issues over the last four months. And there are more issues that need attention,” Solomon said upon his appointment. “We need more time and we need to keep the momentum. Clayton is my home. Clayton is my commitment.”

Staff writer Anna Johnson contributed to this report.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.