A Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputy will be present at all board meetings for the remainder of the year, following an argument Tuesday between commissioners Patrick Bell and Jim Boff.
Bell called Boff an “idiot” and said he would “get knocked in the head in a minute,” which Boff said he felt was a threat.
Also in the heated exchange, Boff asked Bell to “grow up” and said “now you know why nobody voted for you.”
Boff requested a deputy following Tuesday’s work session and later asked for law enforcement presence at the remainder of meetings this year, after which Bell leaves office.
Bell lost his bid for re-election to Cindy J. Mills in the runoff following the Republican primary. Mills does not face opposition in the Nov. 6 general election.
Boff said he requested the deputy because he was threatened and doesn’t want anyone else to be the subject of threats.
County Manager Doug Derrer stated that his office “is coordinating this effort through the sheriff’s office.”
He didn’t yet have an estimate for the cost of fulfilling the request.
Since a deputy is already present at all regular board meetings, it’s likely that the request will only necessitate law enforcement at the three remaining work sessions this year, county spokeswoman Jodi Gardner said.
The Tuesday debate resulted from a discussion on unified development code changes aimed at streamlining the process of applying for rezonings.
Boff said this wasn’t the first time that Bell has “shown rudeness beyond belief,” citing name-calling in previous meetings and his fellow commissioner screaming in his office and not leaving when asked.
Boff said he did not receive an apology following the meeting, but stated he will be able to continue working with Bell through the year’s end.
“I plan to go to the meetings knowing that things will be OK because of the guard going there,” he said.
Bell said the request for a deputy is intended to make him “look bad.”
“I think it’s a political ploy and grandstanding and a waste of taxpayer money,” he said. “There was no threat of violence or anything else. It’s a disagreement over me fighting for property rights and to reduce the time that it takes to get a business in [the county].”
The two have often disagreed on government issues, Bell said, which has led to the heated exchanges.
He added that tensions have been high during the recent mediation with the city of Cumming over working out deals for two multi-year agreements.
“I actually like Jim. I just don’t agree with his politics,” he said. “I’m issue-based. If he called me right now and said ‘Do you want to go have an ice cream cone at Dairy Queen?’ I’d go sit down with him. I don’t hold grudges.”