NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) — First News was contacted by citizens of Newton Falls because they were upset by what they call a racist comment made by Mayor Ken Kline at a recent council meeting.

At the Jan. 4 Newton Falls City Council meeting Mayor Ken Kline made this comment.

“He says, ‘Mayor Kline, Kenny, who is this guy? I say, ‘I don’t know who this guy is, but he looks like Saddam Hussein.’ I don’t know. I probably shouldn’t say that. I’ll get myself in trouble,” Kline said.

He was referring to the executive director of the Ohio Turnpike, Ferzan Ahmed. Ahmed, who received a key to the city a few years ago, is Pakistani. Kline says he was repeating a joke made by Ahmed about himself at that key ceremony.

But some residents said they were shocked when they heard the mayor make this comment.

Newton Falls resident and former council member Adam Zimmerman said, “It seemed very inappropriate for a public official to be saying that. It seemed very inappropriate for someone who is not of that race to be repeating the same joke.”

David Hanson, a resident of Newton Falls, said he was not at the meeting but saw the clip.

“This was uncalled for,” Hanson said. “It wasn’t the opinion or idea of the people — the body of the people. This was one person who got up and made an inappropriate statement.”

“I don’t have a racist bone in my body,” Kline said. “It’s sad that somebody would try to use race to come at me or to come at somebody else in the community. There’s a lot of people out there who are hurt by race.”

First News reached out to Ferzan Ahmed’s PR team at the Ohio Turnpike for his reaction. They declined to comment on Kline’s remark.