Cordele city chairman and resident petitioning to remove him debate in court

Cordele commission chair and resident debate
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 7:58 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2022 at 8:12 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CORDELE, Ga. (WALB) - The Cordele City Commission Chairman and the man petitioning to remove him from office hashed out their reasons in court Thursday.

The hearing took place in the Crisp County Courthouse with both sides presenting their cases.

Trae Sims, a Cordele resident, started the petition in July to recall Commission Chairman Joshua Deriso. While in the process of collecting necessary signatures, Deriso filed a lawsuit saying Sims’ petition has no merit.

Trae Sims is the Cordele citizen who started the petition against Deriso.
Trae Sims is the Cordele citizen who started the petition against Deriso.(WALB)

An incident at the center of the issue involves the Chairman removing a poster in the police department referencing a thin blue line. Deriso maintains he does not want the police department to have an “us versus them” mentality.

“I don’t need them to go out there for officers wrong. I need the other officer to hold them accountable,” Deriso said. “That’s why it’s so important for them not to feel like I got your back no matter what. No, You got their back when they’re right in law.”

Sims says he believes the poster is not political.

“I do not. I think it is a statement of police officers that they care and love for one another and that they need to stand together in helping each other do a terribly difficult job,” Sims said.

Other arguments involve a city commission meeting that took place April 5 when Sims said Deriso violated his freedom of speech. He and other residents are also outraged about an incident in which Deriso said another commissioner sounded “ignorant.”

Deriso said he doesn’t feel as though he’s violated any rules.

Joshua Deriso is the Chairman for Cordele.
Joshua Deriso is the Chairman for Cordele.(WALB)

“The great majority of people who are against me are people that also voted for the former President Trump. They didn’t have a problem with his conduct,” Deriso said. “I actually never signed up to get Trump out of office because I believe an election has consequences.”

At the end of the hearing, the judge said she would take all points into consideration and make a decision as to whether the petition can proceed sometime in the near future.

The judge at the hearing.
The judge at the hearing.(WALB)

Deriso said he doesn’t believe the petition will get enough signatures to remove him from his position.

Before the lawsuit, Sims was at 500 signatures but is required by law to stop gathering them once the lawsuit came about.

At the time Deriso was elected there were 5,923 people who were eligible to vote.

Sims has to receive 30% (1,974) of that in signatures from eligible voters.

If the judge rules in his favor, Sims will then have 27 days left to reach the required amount of signatures.