Widow feels revenge was motive to block her bid for City Council; mayor says best candidate chosen
by Megan Thornton
June 28, 2013 12:41 AM | 6035 views | 23 23 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Suzanne Thrash had hoped to fulfill the dying wish of her late husband, Bill Thrash, and serve the remainder of his term on the Kennesaw City Council. But the council approved another candidate Wednesday night. <br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Suzanne Thrash had hoped to fulfill the dying wish of her late husband, Bill Thrash, and serve the remainder of his term on the Kennesaw City Council. But the council approved another candidate Wednesday night.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
slideshow

Suzanne Thrash thinks she knows why the mayor of Kennesaw shot down her bid to serve out the remainder of her late husband’s term on the City Council.

“I promised him I would do this,” she said of her husband. “How silly of me to think it would have worked out. I should have known better. Now everything is tainted, it’s dirty.”

Calling Wednesday’s meeting a “debacle” and a “slam” to her recently-deceased husband, the late Councilman Bill Thrash, Suzanne Thrash said what Mayor Mark Mathews would not say: he and Bill Thrash had political disagreements Mathews was not willing to let go of.

“There’s something wrong here,” she said. “There’s something really stinky in Denmark.”

She went on to say her husband was planning to challenge the mayor on a controversial issue involving the city’s ambulance service when he got too ill to continue the fight.

Mathews refutes that theory. He said the ambulance issue was settled long ago and the majority of the council picked Matthew Riedemann, chair of the Kennesaw Development Authority, to succeed Bill Thrash simply because Riedemann was the best person for the job.

“The candidate that was selected was selected based on ability and his ability to continue to execute the vision of the city,” Mathews said. “He’s up to speed on most major projects as chair of KDA and a good choice to continue moving the city forward.”

But what of Bill Thrash’s dying wish that his wife serve out the remainder of his term?

“Mr. Thrash knew how to get things accomplished in the city and he knew who he needed to talk to if he needed to get something done and he made a very concerted effort to get with everyone prior to his passing and share his ideas and his concerns,” Mathews said. “I can tell you from my personal interaction with him, I honored the wish that he asked from me. I honored the wish he had from me to continue to move the vision of the city forward and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”

The mayor said Bill Thrash did not tell him directly that he wished for his wife to succeed him on the council.

“Obviously I can only speak on what Bill said to me, not what he might or might not say to anybody else,” Mathews said.

Yet behind the scenes, Mathews seems to have a different opinion of the late Thrash.

Debra Ashley-Williams, a public relations consultant who helped with Mathews campaign when he ran for his first term, provided the MDJ with a June 12 series of text messages between herself and the mayor in which the mayor seemed to make light of Bill Thrash’s medical struggles.

In one text, Mathews called into question Thrash’s ability to make a clear recommendation on his successor.

“Bill’s wish at the point of coherent abilities or at the point of hallucinating about dogs jumping out of the car? Any clue how many times he apologized for her comments or actions? I’ve yet to attend an event or been at a function that she didn’t have a complaint. #1 complaint was always the size of her lobster or not getting ‘appropriate’ recognition. It was never what she deserved. I’m sorry but the city already has a person that abuses the position and wastes money with no remorse ... and believe it or not it’s not me.”

Ashley-Williams texted back, writing that “there are three times in the US government a spouse or daughter was appointed and nothing they did changed the course of history. In the next six months, what can happen that would be significant enough one vote could change?”

Mathews responded, “While a veto requires 4/5’s to override. The concern I have is the message being sent on 3/2 votes over purely emotional items while using ‘this is what Bill wanted...’ approach. We have quite a few major projects teed up that might get Leary (sic) without a strong consensus from the city officials.”

Ashley-Williams responded by asking if the projects were not in the works while Thrash was still alive, how could “feelings” be an argument.

“It’s not about actions regarding the projects,” Mathews wrote back. “It’s about the potential of other ‘emotionally’ based actions being taken. Unfortunately, based on recent attitudes and actions without consensus or approval, I believe that there will be action items considered that would show conflict and contradiction on the council. Our success over the past 5 years have been a result of a unified team approach which has been lost in the recent past.”

The MDJ asked Mathews why he made such comments about the late Thrash.

“There’s inside conversations, personal friend-of-friend conversations that were being had, and yes, he had hallucinations towards the end of his life,” Mathews said. “And it was joked about by him and by his close friends.”

Mathews went on to say that, “I had candid conversations with a friend, who I thought was a friend, that were the exact conversations I had with Mrs. Thrash.”

Moving forward, Suzanne Thrash, longtime coordinator of the city’s Youth Council program, said the only appropriate action is for Riedemann to decline his appointment to her husband’s vacant seat and for the council to select her.

“That’s the only fair thing that would work,” she said. “There is absolutely no reason for them not to appoint me.”

She said she does not intend to run for the seat in the November election so she would not be motivated by politics.

Suzanne Thrash said she met with Mathews a week ago at Trackside Grill in downtown Kennesaw where he told her she was “too negative” to take the seat.

But Suzanne Thrash said she believed the vote was more about electing a friend and ally who could be counted on to support the mayor in his longstanding dispute with some council members over the city’s ambulance service.

The Thrashes, longtime supporters of Georgia EMS, the city’s provider for 14 years, were at odds with Mathews, who works as a government liaison for MetroAtlanta Ambulance, the Zone III ambulance service that took over after it was determined the city was breaking the law by not using MetroAtlanta.

After the debacle and changing services, some city leaders felt they needed to take initiative to change state law to allow local municipalities to choose their own service provider. Presently, cities and counties have limited choices in who they select for ambulance service. They are governed by regional councils and are required to use the council’s selected service provider under a “home rule” arrangement.

A resolution urging the Legislature to change the home rule law was introduced by Councilman Bruce Jenkins last month, only to meet with stiff opposition by the mayor and his allies, councilmen Tim Killingsworth and Jeff Duckett.

“Bill was trying to get home rule changed so cities could make their own decisions,” Suzanne Thrash said. “That’s what Bill really wanted to do was get home rule changed and that was a battle, which of course he was fighting Mark all the time on that.”

Thrash admitted she was prejudiced toward Georgia EMS, calling owner Ron Kadner and his brother Steve Kadner, who also works for Georgia EMS, “absolute angels” for coming and sitting with her husband while he battled cancer.

“These men saved my husband’s life many times,” she said.

Suzanne Thrash said she wouldn’t call the relationship between her husband and the mayor “adversarial,” but when it came to the issue of ambulance service, things did get heated.

“I’d say they definitely had a difference of opinions,” she said. “Bill discussed everything with me. I knew all of this skullduggery that was going on was political. Our beautiful little town, it’s so sad. I don’t think we can fix it.”

----

Text message exchange

This is a text message exchange between Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews (M) and his former campaign worker, Debra Ashley-Williams (D). Ms. Williams submitted the exchange — which occurred at the June 12 council meeting, during which the timeline to name a new councilman was established — after Wednesday night’s controversial meeting.

(M) So was the meeting better or worse than expectations?

(D) Three ring circus!

(M) Ha. Pretty much.

(M) Who had the best act?

(D) Tim(Killingsworth)!

(M) Wouldn't disagree. Feedback? Guidance? Suggestions?

(D) Tough position. Other than granting Bill's (Thrash) wish and being viewed as compassionate in the public's eye, my only thought of a viable candidate is Sam Paglioni.

(M) Bill's wish at the point of coherent abilities or at the point of hallucinating about dogs jumping out of the car? Any clue how many times he apologized for her comments or actions? I've yet to attend an event or been at a function that she didn't have a complaint. #1 complaint was always the size of her lobster or not getting "appropriate" recognition. It was never what she deserved. I'm sorry but the city already has a person that abuses the position and wastes money with no remorse ... and believe it or not it's not me.

(D) I don't know about the apologies. I know he told Shannan early, he spoke to me about it going to one of his treatments. That's what I can vouch for. Now having said that, there are three times in the US government a spouse or daughter was appointed and nothing they did changed the course of history. In the next six months, what can happen that would be significant enough one vote could change?

(M) While a veto requires 4/5's to override. The concern I have is the message being sent on 3/2 votes over purely emotional items while using "this is what Bill wanted..." approach. We have quite a few major projects teed up that might get Leary without a strong consensus from the city officials.

(D) If these projects were not in the works while he was in the conversation how could "feelings" be an argument.

(M) It's not about actions regarding the projects. It's about the potential of other "emotionally" based actions being taken. Unfortunately, based on recent attitudes and actions without consensus or approval, I believe that there will be action items considered that would show conflict and contradiction on the council. Our success over the past 5 years have been a result of a unified team approach which has been lost in the recent past.

(D) Tough position. No win situation. Most of the candidates are a joke, made a three-ring circus out of the open call. So much transparency isn't always a success.

 

Comments
(23)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Mike In Smyrna
|
June 28, 2013
Lead story on TMZ tonight 7:30 / Fox 5 – TMZ is scoping the MDJ with live interviews

This is pathetic – Who knows – Perhaps a Hallmark movie?

Truth Seeker
|
June 28, 2013
I've lived in Kennesaw my whole life. I've known Mark Mathews ever since he first ran for city council... The subject of Mark Mathews and ethics is becoming the topic of conversation most discussed around here. Amoung my neighbors and friends, the one thing everyone agrees on is that Mark Mathews has changed. He has taken a terrible turn for the worst. Mark Mathews ethical values are a joke... and are apparently for sale to the highest bidder. Around here, Mark is known more for his ability to intimidate and manipulate than anything else. It's a shame. He wasn't always like this...He actually used to stand for something. The citizens of Kennesaw and his family are the biggest loser here. I know his parents did not raise him to be what he has become... I can not help but laugh when the statement that anyone wouldn't be qualified to be a member of the city council?? Since when did qualifications ever play a role in "The Great Popularity Contest"?? Mark who never actually graduated from a college or Tim Killingsworth?? Really?? This is just another glaring example of people who desperately lack honor, or morales.....
Your Right On
|
July 10, 2013
I agree completely, he is hurting more then helping. He wants everyone to come to him and beg his approval on anything. He is thinks he is a "god-fater" and we all in Kennesaw should kiss his ring to get his approval. What a joke, he needs to be tossed from office, with his court and find people that remember why they are in there.
I16
|
June 28, 2013
The little fat mayor thinks he is Boss Hog.

Mr. Wildman would be a better mayor.

The little fat mayor should go on over to the Bore Nest.
Joe Bozeman
|
July 03, 2013
Your comment is very tacky
Church Streeter
|
June 28, 2013
All politics aside, the decision was pure business and nothing personal.

If I were a citizen in Kennesaw, I wouldn't want her representing my district having exhibited the poor judgement of assuming she could sweep in to the seat on the council.
Just Wait
|
June 28, 2013
Small town politics. Egos and emotion will always prevail over logic and facts. There must be something in Kennesaw's water.
Bill, From Kennesaw
|
June 28, 2013
I submitted a few words on this topic for a prior article and it did not get posted, seems the MDJ decides who gets to post and who dosen't meet their refined standards.

I won't waste a lot of effort on this comment as it will probably be spiked also.

My generic opinion holds for both National and Local office holders: 'Those in office should be replaced by new people." I base this on just how bad a job that is being done all across the country by our elected office holders.

Those 'new' people we might elect may not be any better than the current crop but they probably won't do a worse job, so let's clean house and get rid of the 'old' office holders and replace them with 'new' people.

If they don't work out we just do it again at the following elections.
interesting Comments
|
June 28, 2013
I read the same article and didn't find injustice. I find it sort of sad to focus on this fragile appearing widow. Whether the man chosen is the right one for the job or not, it is not appropriate to appoint someone to a responsible position just to honor a dying person's wish. More to the point is who could best do more than just "fill" a temporary position. The majority supported the Mayor. A vote determined by the majority is what "justice" is about. I read nothing hateful or unkind in Mayor Mathews remarks, nor in the email between him and a former staffer.
Debra Williams
|
June 28, 2013
What I would like to see is all those posting comments to use your real names. If you've got the audacity to post it - than have the character to own it!
Joe Bozeman
|
June 30, 2013
I agree with you Debra, these gutless people posting under assumed names make me suck. I find them interesting and some comical , but it's hard to take them serious.
Holly Martin
|
July 02, 2013
Well said, Joe. Kennesaw is always an interesting place to live, isn't it?
Joe Bozeman
|
July 03, 2013
Thank you Holly, and by the way, I misspelled SICK. Maybe you should run again, you were a good member of council.
Julie Smart
|
June 28, 2013
Suzanne, you know what you have to do............just do it!
Beverly Rugg
|
June 28, 2013
MDJ: Thank you for helping inform the citizens of Kennesaw of the injustice occurring within our city hall!!

Kennesaw residents: remember to vote in November!!
Kenn Pol
|
June 28, 2013
Kennesaw Politics.... what's wrong with giving the lady 5 months of her late husband's term? Evidently that was enough of a threat to Matthews to be a total unfeeling jerk. Very sad.
ridiculous2
|
June 28, 2013
Is this really newsworthy? Just because you are the widow/widower of a public official, doesn't give you the right to stake a claim to their vacancy upon death. Maybe it was what the spouse wanted, but that doesn't make it beneficial to the community. Give it a rest already.
Shame on them
|
June 28, 2013
I expect this from the Mayor. He has shown time and time again it's NOT about the city, it's about HIM.

Also, Jeff Duckett and Tim Killingsworth should be ashamed of themselves.

Jeff calls himself a Christian, yet he disrespects his dead friends memory.

Tim calls himself a Marine. Yet he could not act anymore dishonorably.

And then they don't even have the guts to explain why they did what they did. Shamful. Neither one of them deserve a seat on council.

We are not talking about Mrs. Thrash being on council long term. Only to fill out her husbands remaining 5 months.
Sad Situation
|
June 28, 2013
Mark Mathews has become an embarrassment to the city. Elections can't come soon enough.

To Metro Ambulance, is this the kind of person you want representing your company?
Gringo Bandito
|
June 28, 2013
This woman's sense of entitlement is astounding. Someone needs to tell her that the seat was not her husband's to give.

Honestly, she seems too emotionally unstable to serve the people. Perhaps she should go continue to grieve in private. Once she has gotten over her husband's death she can make a run at being elected if that's what the people want.
Debra W
|
June 28, 2013
Let me clarify a couple of things here. 1). I worked on his Campaign the FIRST time, I wasn't his Campaign Manager. I refused his requests the second Campaign because I witnessed events I could no longer support.

2). I shared with our Mayor that I was watching closer for the clearer picture - the gossip has no bearing on my decisions, it's gossip! Assumptions leads to poor actions, and I've been accused of being a part of things simply because I chose to closely observe and keep to myself what I was witnessing. I shared with no one, not even the Mayor when he asked. If one doesn't lend themselves to questionable actions, the gossip is laughable because the actions clearly prove it wrong.

3). The Mayor only talked to Mrs. Thrash last week when she called a meeting with him. These text happened weeks prior to that.

4). There are 4-5 people in this town who was with Mr. Thrash often in his final months when he was very lucid and he shared his desires with them. I was one of them, and if the Mayor considered me knowledgeable enough to ask for my feedback, suggestion, and guidance on what he should do following the June 12 meeting, then why did he not have that same belief when I shared with him Bill's request.

“The candidate that was selected was selected based on ability and his ability to continue to execute the vision of the city,” Mathews said. “He’s up to speed on most major projects as chair of KDA and a good choice to continue moving the city forward.”

There were highly educated, experienced, and knowledgeable candidates that could have easily stepped into that Council seat and never lost a beat. Councilman Duckett came in with no prior experience on a City Committee, so why was he considered qualified? The reasoning for the new selection doesn't justify the Mayor statement.
Don't Get Trampled
|
June 28, 2013
Sounds like Suzanne baby has a bit of an EGO.

Common sense is not very common, my grandma says.

Better to keep mouth shut than to open it expose your ignoramus, so my grandpa says.
Please respect
|
July 11, 2013
Dear, Don't Get Trampled,

You haven't a clue of EGO, except if you have been near the Mayor, now that's an ego, (probably why we have to build a new dome downtown Atlanta to hold it) Mrs. Thrash has worked for many years in the shadow of her husband. Not much ego there, and asked to complete something, again not much ego there, I guess it is you that has the ego for Mayor, but don't worry he always takes good care of his ego friends...
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides