One of the candidates running for county Commissioner Tommy Hunter’s seat in 2020 has asked Gov. Brian Kemp to remove Hunter from office because of incidents that have generated headlines in recent years.
Whether that is possible remains to be seen.
Derrick Wilson’s campaign said he sent the letter to Kemp on Monday. He is asking the governor to, if not remove Hunter so a special election for his seat could be held in November, to at least suspend him from office.
“Hunter must be held accountable for his actions,” Wilson said in the letter. “The frivolous lawsuits against the county and his colleagues, for repercussions to his prior outbursts, are a waste of time and valuable county resources.
“It has also made working relationships more strenuous for both his colleagues and the public.”
Wilson is one of a few Democrats who have announced plans to run for Hunter’s seat in 2020.
He cited several incidents in recent years, including: a dispute between Hunter and Hall County deputies during the procession at Gwinnett officer Antwan Toney’s funeral in October; telling state rep. Donna McLeod to “act like a representative” at last week’s commission meeting after she criticized him; and a $5 million federal lawsuit Hunter has filed against other current and former commissioners for issuing a written reprimand against him after he called U.S. Rep. John Lewis a “racist pig” on Facebook in early 2017.
Hunter’s attorney argued in the lawsuit that reprimanding the commissioner for his social media comments was a strike against his first amendment right to free speech.
Hunter’s spokesman, Seth Weathers, dismissed Wilson’s assertions that Hunter had done anything that merited his removal or suspension from office.
“Bless his heart,” Weather said. “This guy seems to be a few fries short of a Happy Meal.”
Wilson may face challenges getting the governor to remove or suspend Hunter from office.
A governor’s office spokesman sent the Daily Post a section of state law which outlines procedures for removing or suspending an elected official on Tuesday. But the section only addresses steps for dealing with an official who has been indicted or convicted of a crime.
Typically, governors removing or suspending election officials have been a somewhat rare occurrence. At least in recent years, suspensions have often been precipitated by an indictment and are lifted if the official is acquitted. In the case of some school boards around the state, a school system’s accreditation being put in jeopardy has precipitated a sitting governor taking action against those boards members.
A panel is typically formed by the governor and is tasked with reviewing accusations against the official in question. The panel makes a recommendation to the governor on what should be done with the individual.