Rather than face a recall election next month, the Georgia city councilman who said seeing whites and blacks on television “makes my blood boil because that’s just not the way a Christian is supposed to live,” will resign.
Hoschton City Councilman Jim Cleveland said he decided to resign instead of giving his opponents the pleasure of saying they voted him out, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“I’m not going to give them the pleasure of saying they recalled Mr. Cleveland,” he told the newspaper.
His resignation comes months after an investigation by the news outlet into allegations that an African American candidate’s bid for city administrator was derailed by Mayor Theresa Kenerly because of his race, which prompted Cleveland to voice support for Kenerly and defend her actions.
“I understood where she was coming from,” he said. “I understand Theresa saying that, simply because we’re not Atlanta. Things are different here than they are 50 miles down the road.”
“I’m a Christian and my Christian beliefs are you don’t do interracial marriage,” Cleveland said during a heated city council meeting in May. “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.”
Once it became clear that the councilman would not resign from his post amid the controversy, local residents organized a campaign to have a recall election, which was set for next month.
“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 said that he plans to leave the small Georgia town after stepping down.
“There is a lot on the plate for Hoschton and some of it is not going to go well,” he said. “It’s not going to be a good place for me to live.”
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.”