Months after stating controversial remarks about interracial marriages, Georgia councilman Jim Cleveland on Tuesday, December 10, resigned ahead of the recall elections. Cleaveland said the decision was made to avoid giving his critics the satisfaction of saying that they voted him out of the recall elections scheduled to take place next month.
"They filed ethics complaints and when that didn't go anywhere they started a recall against me and the mayor," Cleveland was quoted as saying to ABC News. "It went all the way through and it got approved for a recall election. My thinking of it was, 'If they got it this far, then why go through an election and let them recall me? I'll just resign," he said.
Cleaveland's resignation came months after he made contentious remarks about interracial marriages as he supported Georgia Mayor Theresa Kenerly against claims of racial discrimination. According to documents released by Councilwoman Hope Weeks, Kenerly had objected against hiring a strong candidate for an administrative job in the city as he was black stating "we don't have a big black population and she just didn't think Horchton was ready for that."
Georgia councilman drew nation-wide flack
The Georgia councilman drew nation-wide flack after commenting on claims against his close friend Kenerly saying interracial marriages "makes my blood boil because that's just not the way a Christian is supposed to live" and that a lesson from the church is to "keep your races pure".
Citing his upbringing in the Southern white majority state, he said that he believed that if "God created all these different races and if he had wanted them all commingled into one race, he would have done it himself," Cleveland said. "Why did he create all these races, if he didn't mean for us to be separated by race?"
Despite apologising, his comments were criticised
Despite apologising for hurting sentiments, his comments were criticised and prompted calls for resignation. A Joint meeting was organised by members of the Jackson County officials who rebuked Cleavland's remarks and called for residents to file an ethics complaint against him and the mayor.
Cleaveland however, has said that the controversy surrounded his remarks does not take away him being a "respected member of this community." Saying that he knows many people who share the same belief as him, he said that people against him are a "very, very vocal group" and that he is just "tired of hearing it".
"They are calling me a racist and I don't consider myself a racist and I'll tell you why. I have very good friends that are black. I have Spanish, Asians, all kinds of members in my church, and none of them considers me a racist," he told ABC news.