Hoschton city officials face backlash over comments

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Things got heated in Hoschton Thursday night amidst calls for the mayor and a council member to resign.

Mayor Theresa Kenerly and Council member Jim Cleveland are under fire for reportedly racially charged comments they’ve made.

The first speaker was former Hoschton Mayor Erma Denney.

“You two have managed to shock the world with your disgusting rhetoric and actions,” said Denney.

She was part of a loud chorus calling for Mayor Theresa Kenerly and Council member Jim Cleveland to resign.

“You crossed the line legally and I encourage you to resign I encourage councilman Cleveland to resign,” said Jamie Mitchell, a Jackson County resident.

RELATED: Community holds prayer vigil for mayor, city after alleged racial comments

Mayor Theresa Kenerly is under fire for reported comments that Hoschton isn’t ready to have an African American City Administrator after reports she withdrew the application of the black candidate.

City council member Jim Cleveland came to her defense, adding fuel to the fire, saying he was Christian and doesn’t believe in interracial marriage.

There is much talk of a recall election.

“They need to be recalled. There’s no room in our city council for bigotry,” said Hoschton resident Ron Cooper.

With a lawsuit looming neither Cooper nor Kenerly had any comment to FOX 5 News or anybody else

City Attorney Thomas Mitchell explained why to those in attendance at the work meeting.

“On the advice of outside counsel as a result of potential or threatened litigation they cannot respond,” said Mitchell.

Since last week dozens of code of ethics complaints have been filed against Cleveland and Kenerly by both democrats and republicans.

“Over 80 of these things were turned in. That shows an amazing commitment and it shows how deeply people a lot of people feel about this,” said Pete Fuller, with the Jackson County Democratic Party.

Tensions rose when Councilmember Cleveland’s wife burst out, saying "shut up" to the speaker at the podium. Many in the crowd called on the Jackson County Sheriff’s deputies to have her removed, which she wasn’t.

While no one came to the defense of Cleveland or Kenerly at the podium, business owner Mark Bell still stands by the mayor.

“Her reputation has been tarnished and scarred and everything else when she’s adamantly defended something based on someone else’s statement that no one heard besides a few people,” said Bell.

Since Thursday night’s meeting was a working meeting no action was taken.

It is unclear what the next full city council meeting Monday night will involve as far as Mayor Kenerly and Councilmember Cleveland are concerned.

Many people who attended Thursday night’s meeting told FOX 5 News they will attend to press for the Mayor and Councilmember to step down.