ALBANY ALBANY — Ward II Albany City Commission candidate Melissa Strother has filed a legal action in Dougherty Superior Court in an attempt to block the City Commission from swearing in Commissioner-elect Ivey Hines until after her challenge of the election results can be heard.
Strother cites a series of irregularities throughout the course of the election — from Cheryl Calhoun not being allowed to qualify as a candidate in the Ward I race to signs declaring Calhoun as being ineligible for votes not being prominently displayed in polling places throughout the ward — as grounds for contesting the race.
The suit, filed by former city commissioner Bo Dorough, names Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson and Hines as defendants and was filed around 3 p.m. Friday.
According to the suit, Strother contends that the portion of the Georgia Elections Code that deals with declaring votes invalid applies only to “withdrawn” candidates rather than disqualified candidates, and that the code section does not address special elections, such as the Nov. 8 election for Ward II.
Strother is seeking to prevent the City Commission from swearing in Hines, which Albany Mayor Willie Adams said this week could happen at Tuesday’s City Commission meeting. She is asking the court to either order than she and Hines be placed on ballot for the Dec. 6 runoff election or for the results of the Nov. 8 special election to be invalidated and a new one be conducted March 6.
The agenda for that meeting, which was posted Friday afternoon, doesn’t list Hines’ swearing in, but does show that the commission will consider a resolution affirming the certification of the Nov. 8 election results.
City Attorney Nathan Davis said that his office is still researching the issue and would make a decision before Tuesday’s meeting.
Earlier Friday, officials with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office confirmed that they were reviewing the Nov. 8 election.
Michael O’Sullivan, said that the office was reviewing how the election was held to ensure that elections officials complied with state law.
O’Sullivan wouldn’t say who initiated the investigation, but said the secretary of state has the authority to investigate any election held in the state to “ensure that the election code was followed.”
Unlike federal, state and county races, the secretary of state’s office doesn’t have authority to certify municipal election results. They do, however, monitor elections of all types to ensure compliance with the law, O’Sullivan said.