Douglas County Commissioner Freddie Ashmon Attacks Citizen at Town Hall Meeting
By James Bell

May 1, 2009 – Lithia Springs GA: Douglas County District One Commissioner Freddie Ashmon’s Thursday night town hall meeting ended abruptly after Commissioner Ashmon become enraged by a question from a citizen. The meeting was held at the Cornerstone Baptist Church on South Sweetwater Rd.

Witnesses said Ashmon became angry after Jimmy Hulsey, a 55 resident of Douglas County, asked Ashmon to explain why he has missed numerous official meetings. Hulsey read a list of dates of commission meetings, obtained through an open records request which showed Ashmon’s absences. Ashmon attempted to talk over Mr. Hulsey, who had the floor and accused Hulsey of lying and attempting to discredit him.

According to Hulsey, Commissioner Ashmon left the lectern, approached him, and angrily slapped his hands knocking his notes to the floor. Ashmon then grabbed the remaining papers in Hulsey’s hands, ripped and through the papers to the floor and kicked and stomped them.

A sheriff deputy stepped between Ashmon and Hulsey in an attempt to regain order and warned he would stop the meeting.

Hulsey then called for the commissioner to resign, Ashmon again angrily approached him. At the request of the church minister, the deputy stopped the meeting and ordered everyone to leave the building.

Witnesses said they were stunned by Commissioner Ashmon’s angry demeanor. Some described it as a “fit of rage” and that the commissioner was out of control.

One witness said county employees stood by and watched in shocked silence as Ashmon repeatedly accosted Mr. Hulsey. Commission Chairman Tom Worthan was also present.

Ashmon left the room for a moment then return to confronted Hulsey once again. Ashmon ask him “who paid you to do this”? Hulsey said he felt threaten and warned Ashmon to back away.

An attempt by email to reach Commissioner Ashmon for comment was not answered.

Mr. Hulsey declined comment when asked if he will seek legal action against Commissioner Ashmon. ashmon

Today’s Sentinel article about the incident:

Shouting match halts meeting
Commissioner, resident get into argument
By Winston Jones
Staff Writer

A heated shouting match brought a quick halt to District 1 Commissioner Freddie Ashmon’s Thursday night town hall meeting and left a county resident threatening legal action against the commissioner.

The meeting began at 5:30 p.m. at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Lithia Springs. It ended around 6:50 p.m. after the church’s pastor asked county officials to stop the meeting.

The confrontation began when Ashmon left the podium to face off with Jimmy Hulsey, 63, of 965 Old Dallas Highway. Hulsey had questioned the commissioner’s absences from several commission meetings and was attempting to read a list of dates he said Ashmon had missed.

Ashmon grabbed a folder of papers from Hulsey’s hands, ripped it in two and threw it to the floor.

Ashmon admitted Friday that he grabbed the papers, but denied physically making contact with Hulsey.

However, Hulsey said Ashmon slapped the end of his hand in grabbing for the papers, causing a bruise and blood blister. Hulsey said he intends to file charges against Ashmon.

At one point, a Douglas County deputy stepped between the two men, asking Ashmon to let Hulsey ask his question and that Hulsey then let Ashmon reply. However, the shouting match quickly erupted again, and the meeting was halted.

Chief Deputy Stan Copeland said Friday afternoon that the deputy filed a report of the incident but didn’t take further action since he “didn’t see enough cause to file criminal charges.”

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Hulsey told the Sentinel Friday. “It was a public meeting, and I was asking a simple question. He got hostile and went ballistic.”

Hulsey said he went to the meeting to ask Ashmon to resign because he feels the commissioner has missed too many meetings to do an effective job.

“We need a commissioner who’s there, not somebody who’s not going to do the job,” he said.

However, Ashmon said Friday that he has missed eight commission meetings since taking office, “half of those were for training and the rest, taking care of my parents.” He claimed Hulsey was upset over decisions Ashmon has made in trying to enforce codes and waging a clean-up campaign in the district. He felt Hulsey provoked Thursday’s confrontation.

“This was my first time experiencing something like this,” Ashmon said. “I reacted wrong and I learned a very valuable lesson. I can promise that this will never happen again. I have no excuse. That was not me.”
Ashmon said he didn’t sleep all night after the meeting and has apologized to the church pastor and several others attending the meeting.

“I’m a God-fearing man and I let the devil bait me into something totally out of my character,” Ashmon said Friday. “I want to apologize to everybody who was at the meeting, the people in District 1 and the staff. I feel worse than anybody there.”

Commission Chairman Tom Worthan, who was in attendance at the meeting, said, “I don’t want to apologize for the actions of our commissioner, but I do regret that many who attended didn’t get an opportunity to ask the questions they wanted to ask. Any apology should come from the commissioner.”

The district town hall meetings are held throughout the year by the individual commissioners at locations in the districts they serve. Ashmon had originally scheduled his district meeting earlier in April but cancelled at the last moment when his father suffered a heart attack. Ashmon took office in January 2007 and is serving his first four-year term.

The next district town hall meeting will be held by District 3 Commissioner Mike Mulcare from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday at Dorsett Shoals Baptist Church, 5633 Dorsett Shoals Road.