State Rep. Vernon Jones announced on April 22 that he plans to resign and will not seek re-election. The Democrat said that he is “sick and tired of me and family being attacked and harassed by the Democrat Party for putting my country before my party.”
The Democratic Party and others blasted Jones last week after he announced his endorsement of Republican President Donald Trump. The announcement touched off an avalanche of criticism across the nation.
Jones is facing a complaint with the Secretary of State by community activist Faye Coffield, alleging that he does not live in the district for which he was elected. An administrative hearing on the matter is set for Thursday, April 22.
Jones’ announcement apparently clears the way for challenger Rhonda Taylor, a Democrat, to take her seat as the new representative for House District 91, which includes parts of DeKalb and Rockdale counties. There are no other contestants in the July 9 race and the only way that another candidate could enter the general election would have to be as a write-in, elections officials say. Taylor would take the seat in Jan. 2021.
Meanwhile, elections officials say the governor would have to determine if a special election would be held to fill the remainder of Jones’ term, which expires on Dec. 31. Those close to the race say, however, they don’t know if that will happen, pointing out that the governor has not yet called for a special election to fill the unexpired term of Georgia Sen. Jack Hill, who died on April 6. Hill, a Republican who was Georgia’s longest-serving state senator, passed away in his office. He was 75.
Rockdale Supervisor of Elections Cynthia Willingham said she is awaiting direction from state officials concerning the District 91 race. She said once the governor accepts Jones’ resignation, Jones would not be able to rescind his decision.
“He couldn’t just change his mind and stay in the race at that point. Any votes he receives would not count,” Willingham said.
Willingham said there are 26,290 Rockdale voters in District 91.
Jones’ released the following statement in full regarding his resignation:
“I’m sick and tired of me and my family being attacked and harassed by the Democrat Party for putting my country before my party. I take pride in being an independent thinker. My first amendment right to freedom of speech is under siege. I intend to help the Democratic Party get rid of its bigotry against Black people that are independent and conservative. I endorsed the White guy (Donald J. Trump) that let Blacks out of jail, and they endorsed the White guy (Joe Biden) that put Blacks in jail. Turn the lights off, I have left the plantation. Someone else can occupy that suite. Therefore, I intend not to complete my term effective April 22, 2020, but will remain woke and vigilant in educating and fighting for my people.”