An ethics complaint filed by a resident against a Forsyth County commissioner will move ahead to another hearing.
At an investigatory review on Friday morning, an ethics panel made up of three out-of-county lawyers decided to hear a claim regarding reported deleted text messages discussing county business from the personal cell phone of District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills.
In the investigatory review, the panel determines “whether specific substantiated evidence from a credible source(s) exists to support a reasonable belief that there has been a violation of the Code of Ethics.” Neither party is able to present evidence or address the panel.
Jay Guidry, who brought the complaint forward, said after the decision that he is happy with the outcome and that the complaint is going forward as he expected.
He did have some issues with the process, including not being able to speak at the review.
“It’s very frustrating for a non-legal person to prosecute on a pro se process,” he said. “Sitting there listening to my argument and the lawyer go through it, it is very difficult to see and understand the mistakes and frustrate on the process. I think it will be much better once we go to the actual [evidentiary hearing] and I’m able to verbally explain myself versus having to write something up and having to walk someone through it.”
During the hearing, attorneys Charles Pollock, Heather Stevenson and Mike O’Hagan discussed whether there was a violation of state law or the county’s code of ethics.
Mills, who attended the review on Friday but could not be reached for comment afterward, also reportedly made a statement on social media acknowledging she deleted messages, but only due to phone storage.
The evidentiary hearing, for which a date has not yet been set, will allow both parties to present and call witnesses before the panel makes a final decision.
“Ultimately, I’m going to give out the evidence and the ethics board is going to make a determination,” Guidry said, “and I’ll abide by whatever determination they have. I have no general hope or anything for the outcome. That is beyond my scope.”
Per a county ordinance, the ethics panel is made up of three randomly selected attorneys from a list maintained by the county who do not live or have an office in Forsyth or have any other conflicts of interest.