VILLA RICA, Ga. - A decades-long Villa Rica councilman has resigned after admitting he said the a racial slur in the context of a conversation with a black city employee.
Verland Best was not present at the Tuesday City Council meeting to deliver his letter of resignation. The city attorney read his apology and resignation letter.
Best explained in the letter that he was repeating words, including the "n-word," used in a conversation he heard more than 30 years ago as the former Villa Rica High School football coach.
FOX 5 has obtained a copy of the letter.
It reads, in part, "Had I known that anything I said had caused the person I was addressing any unease or had been taken offensively, I would have apologized immediately ... the comment I quoted helped to illustrate and support my point that we had come a very long way from 30+ years ago and want to just continue going forward.
"I sincerely apologize and hope that the person I was talking with and anyone else made aware of our conversation will know and believe that would never knowingly or willingly intend any offense or other discomfort," it reads.
City officials said the black female employee in conversation with Best described the comments as offensive and reported them. A complaint obtained by FOX 5 showed the conversation referred to racist statements made by a parent while Best was a football coach.
"There are just certain things you don't say," said Mayor Jeff Reese, who helped conduct the investigation. "I was shocked that a councilman of 23-plus years would make the comment."
Best's seat will be vacant until the ballot for March 2019 due to the timing of the resignation.
City residents tell FOX 5 they are shocked and saddened by the unexpected resignation from a long-time local leader and well-respected former coach known for mentoring athletes for decades.
"I was shocked by it. I think it's a loss for the city," one resident said.