Special hearing officer to investigate remarks made by mayor, council member

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It was nearly a full house at the Hoschton City Council meeting Monday night as residents insisted their voices not be silenced about a recent controversy involving the mayor and a city council member.

At the city’s regular meetings, like the one Monday, the public is not allowed time to speak. That’s why Mike Beller held a “Just resign” sign through it all.

“I can’t speak tonight at the council meeting but these two, the mayor and the mayor pro tem, should have resigned four weeks ago,” said Beller.

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 a black candidate. Mayor Pro-Tem and 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.

Erma Allen Denney, the former Hoschton Mayor, said the widely reported incident has tainted the city’s reputation just as a new high-end development is set to open.

“We should be enjoying this moment to shine in Jackson County and instead we’re continuing to fight against discrimination from the mayor and councilman Cleveland,” said Allen Denney.

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Neither Cleveland nor Kenerly had any comment to FOX 5 News when asked about the allegations.

Dozens of code of ethics complaints have been filed against both of them. At his first meeting, Dale Hall, the new city administrator introduced an ordinance for a single officer to look into the ethics complaints. The city does not have an ethics board and even if it did, Kenerly and Cleveland would be exempt.

“Obviously, since all members of the city council were not able to do this we looked at some opportunities to move this forward and get resolution to the matters,” said Hall.

It remains unclear how long before the ethics complaints will be addressed against Mayor Kenerly and councilmember Cleveland.

Shantwon Astin and many others said they’ll keep showing asking the mayor and council member to resign.

“I wish they would for the sanctity of the city but everything takes time,” said Astin.

The next work session of the Hoschton City Council, where the public is allowed to speak, is on June 27.

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