A Georgia city councilman who has vehemently denounced interracial marriage – saying it makes his “blood boil” – has resigned ahead of a recall election, according to reports.
Hoschton City Councilman Jim Cleveland said he wanted to leave his office on his own accord Tuesday rather than let voters decide his political future next month, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“I’m not going to give them the pleasure of saying they recalled Mr. Cleveland,” he told the newspaper.
Cleveland’s resignation comes months after he divulged his feelings about interracial marriage during a heated city council meeting in May.
“I’m a Christian and my Christian beliefs are you don’t do interracial marriage,” Cleveland said. “That’s the way I was brought up and that’s the way I believe. I have black friends, I hired black people. But when it comes to all this stuff you see on TV, when you see black and whites together, it makes my blood boil because that’s just not the way a Christian is supposed to live.”
Cleveland also faced calls to step down while supporting Mayor Theresa Kenerly, who allegedly declined to hire a black candidate to be the city’s administrator in May due to his race.
“They filed ethics complaints and when that didn’t go anywhere, they started a recall against me and the mayor,” Cleveland told ABC News. “It went all the way through and it got approved for a recall election. My thinking was, ‘If they got it this far, then why go through an election and let them recall me? I’ll just resign.’”
Cleveland, who still believes he’s a “respected” member of the predominantly white town, also defended Kenerly, insisting she didn’t pass on hiring the candidate because he’s black.
“I have more people, I believe, that feel the way I do about everything,” Cleveland continued. “But the ones that are against me are a very, very vocal group. And I’m just tired of hearing it.”
On Tuesday, Cleveland claimed to have friends of varying ethnic backgrounds who could confirm that he’s not prejudiced against any race.
“I have very good friends that are black,” he said. “I have Spanish, Asian, all kinds of members in my church, and none of them consider me a racist.”
The political future of Kenerly, meanwhile, is unclear. She unsuccessfully fought a recall campaign that reached the Georgia Supreme Court, which declined to hear her appeal last month. The Hoschton city council will meet on Wednesday to accept Cleveland’s resignation and to elect a new mayor pro tem, the Journal-Constitution reported.
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