The mayor said he is open to dialogue with opponents.
“Come see me,” Matheson said. “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.”
Several community groups filed the complaint in February claiming Matheson was violating city ethics rules by failing to give “the appearance of being independent, impartial, and responsible to the people,” as required by the ethics code, and was instead “partisan, biased, divisive, and not concerned about all constituents he is charged with serving” on his daily radio show.
The board consisted of Robert Jefferson, former Superior Court Judge Jim Tunison and former Lowndes County Solicitor General Richard Shelton. Tunison and Shelton voted to dismiss the case, saying Matheson is engaged in political speech protected by the First Amendment. Jefferson voted against the dismissal.
The board did not allow public comment, sparking complaint.
“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.”
Groups including the Mary Turner Project, Lowndes County Chapter of the NAACP, Concerned Clergies of Valdosta and the Valdosta-Lowndes Community Alliance filed the complaint. They cited comments Matheson made implying Democratic canvassers in Georgia’s January U.S. Senate runoffs were improperly paid, that COVID-19 spikes in Arizona and California came from “letting in tens of thousands of unchecked migrants in from disease-ridden nations,” and that federal judges improperly ignored voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.