FRANKLIN, Va. (WAVY) - Monday night's Franklin City Council meeting almost ended with a councilman being escorted out by police.
"It's a sad state of local government when an elected official as myself is forced to speak during citizens' time and comment on concerns," said councilman Greg McLemore.
During the meeting, McLemore left his seat and headed for the podium where every other citizen is allowed to talk. He wanted dispute allegations he was behind a city-wide boycott of local businesses.
"I emphatically deny any involvement. participation, organization and orchestration," McLemore said to the council.
McLemore says he's been at the center of council witch hunt. He believes fellow members want him out because he has fought for residents who claim they have high utility bills.
"They (council members) are doing anything they can to try to discredit me," McLemore added.
But fireworks began a short time after McLemore started speaking Monday night.
"I haven't bashed anybody," he told Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn.
Johnson-Ashburn asked McLemore to please be quiet.
McLemore says he and the Mayor haven't gotten along for many years. The two both ran for mayor two years ago.
"This is my first term and I just hate that this stigma has been attached," Mayor Johnson-Ashburn said.
Most speakers are usually given five minutes. McLemore was cut off well short of that mark.
"I don't want to sue the city," McLemore told the Mayor. He felt as if his rights were being denied to speak.
Taylor Williams, the Franklin City Attorney, says speakers are only allowed to discuss city business during citizens' comment. Council felt as if McLemore was speaking about non-city matters.
McLemore says if he would have been allowed to speak longer, council would see everything he had to say dealt with the city.
At one point, Johnson-Ashburn asked police to escort McLemore out of the chambers. McLemore was eventually allowed to return to his seat, but the war of words is far from finished.
"They don't want me, because I'm outspoken on behalf of the citizens," he added.
"We will continue to do what's necessary to carry out business of the city," Johnson-Ashburn said.
McLemore's term expires in 2014. He says at this point, he's not sure if he will run for re-election.
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