0

Board rules Calhoun ineligible to run in Ward II race

Ivey Hines and Melissa Strother are now the only two viable candidates.

Dougherty County Attorney Spencer Lee, left, speaks with City Attorney Nathan Davis before a special-called meeting of the Dougherty County Elections Board as Ward II Candidate Cheryl Calhoun and her husband Randal look on. Calhoun was disqualified as a candidate because she lives in Ward I.

Dougherty County Attorney Spencer Lee, left, speaks with City Attorney Nathan Davis before a special-called meeting of the Dougherty County Elections Board as Ward II Candidate Cheryl Calhoun and her husband Randal look on. Calhoun was disqualified as a candidate because she lives in Ward I.

— The Dougherty County Board of Elections voted 3-0, with two members absent, to disqualify Cheryl Calhoun as a candidate the Ward II City Commission seat.

Despite being allowed to qualify as a candidate for the seat now vacated by former commissioner Dorothy Hubbard, Calhoun's 1525 Georgia Avenue residence sits one block on the wrong side of the Ward II map -- in Ward I.

Walter Blankenship, the chairman of the board of elections, told Calhoun he was sympathetic to her plight Wednesday, but that the board was obligated to follow the city's charter and state law.

"Our degree of disappointment and regret that we share with you doesn't negate our responsibilities as members of this board," Blankenship said before the vote.

Calhoun, who was visibly distraught and who left the meeting briefly before stepping back in before the vote, told the board that she wasn't angry with what had happened, but was very disappointed.

"I know I did everything that was right," Calhoun said. "I'm not angry, I'm just very disappointed and I wish you all would have shown us the map before I was allowed to qualify."

According to the official district maps that divide the city into six political districts known as wards, addresses along the block that are 1499 or less on Georgia Avenue fall into Ward II while addresses from 1500 up on Georgia Avenue fall into Ward I.

After looking at the maps initially, Calhoun went to qualify to run against Ward I incumbent commissioner Jon Howard. But after her address information was put into the elections' database, her information came up as being registered in Ward II.

Despite being questioned by Calhoun and her husband, Calhoun was told to come back during the special qualifying period for the Ward II race and qualify then, which she was allowed to do.

Calhoun said that she and her husband had received a voter registration card in the mail that shows they were in Ward II which was apparently sent in error based on errant data that was put into the city's GIS mapping system by city officials.

Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said that Wednesday morning 100 residents of Georgia Avenue were transferred from Ward II to Ward I on the voter registration rolls based on the information obtained during the review of Calhoun's qualification.

City Attorney Nathan Davis, who was at the meeting, called the incident an "inadvertent error," and said that he will suggest that the commission refund Calhoun's $450 qualification fee despite the fact that state law prohibits refunds after the qualifying period "even for qualification."

"But I think that statute is aimed at situations where the candidate is in error. In this case, it clearly wasn't the fault of the candidate but of the local government that resulted in the disqualification," Davis said.

Comments

TrixibelleBento 3 years, 2 months ago

If you can't read a map, you don't need to be leading the City.

0

J.D._Sumner 3 years, 2 months ago

Just FYI, the problem wasn't the map. She apparently went in originally to run for the Ward I seat against Jon Howard, but was told by election officials that she lived in Ward II, so she qualified for that race...

0

TrixibelleBento 3 years, 2 months ago

Ah okay. Thanks for the correction. Wow, that's unfortunate for her.

0

Local 3 years, 2 months ago

So people DO make mistakes - - Remember that as you judge others so quickly when you do not even know the entire story.

0

TrixibelleBento 3 years, 2 months ago

I was simply commenting on the story before it was updated. It was not written that way at first. I acknowledged my mistake. I'm sure you never judge.

0

Momof3 3 years, 2 months ago

Just curious...So who makes up the Election officials and since they had to transfer 100 voter to the "new" ward, are the officials going to be held accountable or is it just considered a bad mixup and oh well......?

0

Engineer 3 years, 2 months ago

The city planning dept has an online webmap that shows the wards. http://gis.albany.ga.us/external The info has been there the whole time.

0

an88phan 3 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps the whole board can be moved to the looney ward. You can't make up stuff like this.

0

chinaberry25 3 years, 2 months ago

The city of Albany should refund all the fees that she paid. This is inability of workers of the city. Typical of most workers everywhere. Very few care. They should have been able to pull up her address and tell her what district she was in. Should not have to depend of a map.

0

budcollier1956 3 years, 2 months ago

The candidate appeared to follow all procedures. There was an inadvertant error in the administration of the processs stated in the article to be the reliance upon the computerized database. Yes there are maps. Perhaps all rely on computers too much. From the article, the board seemed to have dealt with the issue as it existed, limited to the extent of its authority. As stated in the article, the election code itself rules on the candidates qualification, that has to be followed. Sadly in real life, absent of the wisdom of Solomon, there are no perfect processes and no easy, perfect solutions. Thankfullly our system of government not only administers rules and processes but provides available means and avenues for people to seek relief and remedies should they be wronged or errors occur. The candidate seemed to have demonstrated excellent character and professionalism throughout the process, was running because she believed in the system, wanted to be part of it, wanted perhaps to improve it. Now she must have faith in that proceess, avail herself if she desires and allow it to work on her behalf. That's the way America works for all of us.

0

VietVet1 3 years, 2 months ago

Again - only in Albany - Dougherty County

0

Sign in to comment