Mathis suspended, Ward II un-represented for now - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Mathis suspended, Ward II un-represented for now

Suspended Ward II Commissioner Henry Mathis. Suspended Ward II Commissioner Henry Mathis.

Albany-- As expected, the Governor upheld an ethics panel recommendation to suspend Henry Mathis. But Governor Perdue hasn't chosen a replacement to serve the constituents of Ward Two, leaving the people and other commissioners wondering how long Mathis' seat will be vacant.

Mathis is awaiting federal trial on charges of extortion and lying to investigators. His suspension is effective immediately. He can't even come to Tuesday morning's city commission meeting.

It could be weeks-- or months-- before the Governor names a replacement commissioner. "The track that this was on would certainly lead someone to believe that it was certainly a possibility. So it wasn't shocking by no means," said Mayor Dr. Willie Adams.

Mayor Adams already has a few ideas of who should temporarily fill Mathis' vacated seat. "I feel confident the Governor will contact somebody in this area concerning that replacement person. We stand ready to suggest one, two, or maybe three people that could possibly represent that Ward, who live in that Ward."

Adams wouldn't mention those names, but hopes the Governor will appoint a replacement immediately. "It would be important to proceed in an expeditious fashion because we certainly don't want that part of the city to go unrepresented. Even though, I feel confident that the rest of us will keep Ward Two in mind when we make our decisions."

The Governor doesn't have to choose a replacement from Ward II and can take as long as he want to make that decision. So for now the commissioners' hands are tied.

But if Mathis is found guilty, the commission regains the power to appoint a permanent replacement. "I really think that way down the road, I would certainly defer speculation on this matter. Mr. Mathis will have his day in court. We wish him the best of luck. Whatever that decision will be, we'll have to handle it when we get there."

The Governor's office wouldn't speculate who he'll appoint or when to expect that appointment. So, Mathis' seat for stay empty until his trial. Mathis' trial is tentatively set for April.

posted by dave.miller@walb.com

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