VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson said he's relieved after the city's ethics board dismissed complaints stemming from what some say were racially inflammatory comments on his radio talk show.
The Lowndes County NAACP and other groups filed formal ethics complaints against Matheson in February. The complaint says the mayor has made disparaging racial comments and fails to give the appearance of being impartial and unbiased. The ethics board, however, dismissed the complaints, saying that his statements were political speech and therefore protected by First Amendment Rights. To those who may hold a differing opinion, Mayor Matheson says,
"Come see me. We'll work together to solve whatever actual problem, not the problems with me, an individual's problems with me, but we'll solve whatever actual problems they see in this community."
Many of those displeased by the mayor's actions walked out of the public hearing once board members raised and seconded the motion to dismiss. They hoped to have had an opportunity for public comment, which the board did not allow.
"I'd like to see a deeper investigation," said Pastor Jimmy Boyd of Christian Love Bible Baptist Church. "I'd like to see first of all a panel that is not set up for [Matheson] to win. I would like to see more people that will look at the facts, look at it from a non-biased, nonpolitical standpoint, and then begin to make a fair judgment. That's all I want. But his comments cannot be tolerated."
The Ethics Complaint Board will present their ruling before the city council for them to accept within seven days.