Han­del to notruleon District 5

Vin­son camp dis­ap­pointed

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Rachel Oswald

Sec­re­tary of State Karen Han­del will not be in­ter­ven­ing in the elec­tion dis­pute be­tween Repub­li­can District 5 com­mis­sion can­di­date Tim Flem­ing and his Demo­cratic op­po­nent, Randy Vin­son.

Vin­son’s cam­paign had writ­ten to Han­del re­quest­ing she make a rul­ing on the qual­i­fi­ca­tions of Flem­ing to run for of­fice in the district. The Vin­son cam­paign is chal­leng­ing Flem­ing’s el­i­gi­bil­ity on the grounds he has a homestead ex­emp­tion for a house out­side of District 5.

Matt Car­rothers, di­rec­tor of me­dia re­la­tions for the sec­re­tary of state’s

of­fice, said Han­del had re­viewed the re­quest by the Vin­son cam­paign and de­cided not to in­volve her­self in the dis­pute.

“The Sec­re­tary of State’s of­fice does not have ju­ris­dic­tion over res­i­dency chal­lenges re­gard­ing county com­mis­sion candidates and will not be tak­ing fur­ther action on this mat­ter,” Car­rothers said.

The Vin­son cam­paign had held out hope that she would be sym­pa­thetic to their case against Flem­ing be­cause of Han­del’s well pub­li­cized op­po­si­tion to the el­i­gi­bil­ity of Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion can­di­date Jim Pow­ell to run for of­fice based on a homestead ex­emp­tion he had for a home out­side of the state district for which he was cam­paign­ing.

Flem­ing re­it­er­ated what his cam­paign has said since the ques­tion of his qual­i­fi­ca­tions to run for of­fice was first raised weeks ago - that it was a “non­is­sue.”

“I am qual­i­fied to stand for District 5 Board of Com­mis­sion­ers since day one of this cam­paign,” Flem­ing said. “It’s re­ally a sad state that Randy Vin­son and [cam­paign man­ager] Paul Oe­land have tried to cir­cum­vent the elec­tion by try­ing to take this away from the vot­ers of District 5. In my opin­ion, it’s noth­ing but dirty pol­i­tics.”

Oe­land said he was dis­ap­pointed with Han­del’s de­ci­sion not to in­ter­vene, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing how pub­licly ve­he­ment she has been that Pow­ell’s homestead ex­emp­tion should pre­clude him from run­ning for of­fice.

“She’s the chief elec­tions of­fi­cial of the state and the chair­per­son of the state Board of Elec­tions [which] by its own man­date says it can in­ves­ti­gate lo­cal elec­tions and pro­mul­gate rules to make sure the fair im­ple­men­ta­tion of the state’s elec­tion laws.”

He said the Vin­son cam­paign does not plan to pur­sue the mat­ter fur­ther and will not be fil­ing an elec­tions ap­peal with the New­ton County Su­pe­rior Court.

“It’s a unique sit­u­a­tion and I just don’t think there is an­other av­enue of ap­peal,” Oe­land said. “It’s clearly up now to the vot­ers of the fifth district.”

Oe­land dis­puted Flem­ing’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tions of his and Vin­son’s ac­tions.

“This no­tion that Mr. Flem- ing con­tin­ues to put for­ward that the ba­sic qual­i­fi­ca­tion of res­i­dency is some­how dirty pol­i­tics and mud sling­ing is just be­yond me,” Oe­land said. “I just con­tinue to be dis­ap­pointed to see him ques­tion­ing what we think is a fun­da­men­tal qual­i­fi­ca­tion for can­di­dacy as dirty tricks is dis­ap­point­ing.”

Two weeks ago the New­ton County Board of Elec­tions ruled by a de­fault vote to up­hold Flem­ing’s can­di­dacy. The nor­mally three-mem­ber board was de­creased to two to vote on Flem­ing’s can­di­dacy when non­par­ti­san board mem­ber Hugh Steele re­cused him­self from vot­ing be­cause of a cam­paign con­tri­bu­tion he had made to Flem­ing.

The Demo­cratic board mem­ber voted to dis­qual­ify Flem­ing and the Repub­li­can board mem­ber voted to up­hold his can­di­dacy. As a re­sult they came to a draw. On the grounds of the un­clear BOE rul­ing, the Vin­son cam­paign de­cided to ap­peal to the sec­re­tary of state for help.

Han­del, a Repub­li­can, had pre­vi­ously ruled that Pow­ell, who is a Demo­crat, was in­el­i­gi­ble to run for the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion only to have her de­ci­sion over­ruled by the Ful­ton County Su­pe­rior Court in time for Pow­ell to win his district’s pri­mary. She has since ap­pealed the lower court’s de­ci­sion to the Ge­or­gia Supreme Court.

Oe­land said the cir­cum­stances of Han­del and Flem­ing’s iden­ti­cal party af­fil­i­a­tion had not es­caped no­tice of the Vin­son cam­paign.

“It cer­tainly has not es­caped our at­ten­tion that Mr. Flem­ing has the stated sup­port of the lieu­tenant gov­er­nor and of var­i­ous elected of­fi­cials on the state and na­tional level,” Oe­land said. “It’s pure spec­u­la­tion but it is an in­ter­est­ing ques­tion, whether if the ta­bles were turned and it was a Repub­li­can ask­ing her to get in­volved to re­view a Demo­crat’s res­i­dency, whether she would get in­volved.”

Han­del has stated that if a homestead ex­emp­tion has been filed, the ad­dress for which the ex­emp­tion is claimed shall be viewed as the per­son’s res­i­dence for the pur­poses of stand­ing for elec­tions.

In the city of Por­terdale last fall, city coun­cil can­di­date, Gigi Shinall, was dis­qual­i­fied from run­ning for of­fice by the Por­terdale elec­tions su­per­in­ten­dent on ac­count of a homestead ex­emp­tion she had for a house lo­cated out­side of the city lim­its even though she had phys­i­cally resided in the city for a year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.