Who Is Theresa Kenerly? New Details On The Georgia Mayor Accused Of Racist Hiring Practices

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Who Is Theresa Kenerly? New Details On The Georgia Mayor Accused Of Racist Hiring Practices
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She is the Mayor of Hoschton, Georgia. Theresa Kenerly is 62-years-old. sShe is a divorcee who has been married twice and also has two children and at least five grandchildren. Theresa became interim Mayor in 2012 and was elected to a full time position in 2013. She was first elected to the city council in 2007. She ran because she didn't want the town to change. Before deciding to run for office in 2007, she moved to Hoschton from Gwinnett, Georgia. Theresa is also a real estate agent and owns her own company called Moonlight Realty, which has been operating since 1995. Who is Theresa Kenerly?

1. Theresa Kenerly is in the hot seat 

Keith Henry, a Houston, Texas, resident, was one of four candidates for the open city administrator position in Hoschton. Kenerly pulled the resume of Keith Henry out of a packet of four candidates and told a City Council member that she did it "because he is black, and the city isn't used to this," according to a report from the Journal-Constitution. The statement was made during a closed door session of the City Council in early March. Henry was a finalist for the position before he withdrew his application due to another job opportunity. At the time he did not know that he was being judged because of his race. Hope Weeks is the councilwoman that she confided in when she made the remarks about the candidate. Weeks consulted with councilwoman Susan Powers and they decided to speak with Attorney Thomas Mitchell in regards to their concerns about the discrimination.


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2. Adding to the controversy

Adding fuel to the fire, City Council member Jim Cleveland defended Kenerly to the Journal-Constitution. He told the newspaper that Kenerly was actually "looking out" for Henry becausr the city is mostly white. Cleveland called Hoschton a "predominantly white community" that does things differently. Cleveland insisted he was not racist but made sure to point out that he doesn't believe that black and white people should marry. “I’m a Christian and my Christian beliefs are you don’t do interracial marriage. That’s the way I was brought up and that’s the way I believe. I have black friends, I hired black people. But when it comes to all this stuff you see on TV, when you see blacks and whites together, it makes my blood boil because that’s just not the way a Christian is supposed to live.”

3. Violating Anti-Discrimination Laws

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a Civil Acts and Labor Law in the United States that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin. Theresa violated that act when she attempted to block Mr. Henry's application because he's black and that is something she believes her city isn't ready for. It should be noted that Henry was exceptionally qualified for the position he applied for. It's frightrening that in 2019, the year of making strides for change such as March for our Lives, Gay Rights and the #MeToo movement that an individual would be turned away from a job that he is qualifed for because of the color of his skinTheresa now denies the accusations that she pulled a potential candidate for City Administration because he was black. Theresa said: “I do not recall making the statement attributed to me regarding any applicant for the City Administrator position, and I deny that I made any statement that suggest (sic) prejudice.”

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4. Call To Take Action

Local Faith Leaders called for the resignation of Mayor Theresa Kenerly. Pastor Glander, a friend of some of the city's officials, organized a candlelit prayer vigil to show the town's true spirits after the incident. A meeting was held amongst city officials and the attorney Thomas Mitchell to determine whether or not to allow Kenerly to participate in further interviews for open positions. Ultimately city officials agreed that Kenerly will have no role in future hiring decisions. We can only hope that there will be further consequences and precautions set in place to prevent situations that affect a specific race from having equal opportunity in the work place.


Diana Noel is a Junior at the University of Central Florida studying Journalism with a minor in Writing and Rhetoric. Besides writing articles for YourTango and Her Campus, she loves scrapbooking, spending countless hours at coffee shops and playing random board games with her friends. She is dedicated to pursing a career in publishing/magazine writing, and would like to write her own books in the near future. She is a God loving introvert, bubbly and at times uncontrollably shy but she's not afraid to use her voice to speak up. Some may say she is a lion at heart who will roar when she is filled with passion.