The Columbia Heights City Council during a special session Monday voted to open an investigation into a racist phone call that one of its members allegedly made to a candidate.
Council Member KT Jacobs is accused of making the call to Justice Spriggs, one of seven candidates running for two at-large council seats.
Council members, with Jacobs abstaining, voted unanimously to look into the matter, but did not set a timeline for when proceedings will begin.
"I'm working to get an investigator lined up and once that happens I'll have a better sense of the timing," said City Manager Kelli Bourgeois. "Of course, we want to proceed so there can be resolution as quickly as possible, but the timeline will depend on the investigator's schedule and the various affected parties' calendars."
Because this is not a criminal case, witness statements would be given voluntarily, said city spokesman Ben Sandell.
Spriggs spoke during the open forum portion of the July 25 council meeting and described a phone call he received from a number belonging to Jacobs. He said the caller berated him about his ideals and qualifications for office, and questioned his ancestry.
Spriggs, who is biracial, is 26 and a fourth-year medical school student at the University of Minnesota. He said the incident has been disheartening and upsetting.
Jacobs, who is not up for re-election, acknowledged in an e-mail that the call was placed from her personal cell phone, but she said the call was made by an extended family member who was not authorized to use it.
"I understand that I am ultimately responsible for the consequences," Jacobs said in a statement. "As an elected official in this community, I take my duties very seriously. Words expressed by my family member to Mr. Spriggs do not in any way reflect my own opinions or values. I'm deeply sorry that the incident took place."
Jacobs did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the pending investigation.
By Thursday, more than 325 people had signed an online petition calling for Jacobs, whose term ends in 2025, to step down.