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Heard hearing under way

Dougherty County School Board write-in candidate Lorenzo Heard is suggesting that the school system look at its successful schools and use them as a model for the rest of the schools in the system. (Sept. 16, 2012)

Dougherty County School Board write-in candidate Lorenzo Heard is suggesting that the school system look at its successful schools and use them as a model for the rest of the schools in the system. (Sept. 16, 2012)

ALBANY, Ga. -- Lorenzo Heard’s effort to get on November’s General Election ballot to run against Lane Price finally got under way Monday in Dougherty Superior Court with Judge J. Robert Porter III hearing testimony in what is expected to be a two-day hearing.

“The voters should be the ones who decide elections, not elected officials,” Heard’s attorney, Maurice King, said during opening statements.

Heard, the pastor at 2nd Greater Mt. Olive Baptist Church, launched his bid to get on the ballot as an independent candidate in the Dougherty County School System’s School Board at-large race shortly after Price defeated incumbent Anita Williams-Brown in the July 31 Democratic Primary.

His candidacy, however was derailed by the Dougherty Elections Board, which denied him a spot on the ballot citing irregularities in his Notification of Candidacy, lack of paying a qualifying fee and insufficient numbers in his candidacy petition signatures.

“The qualifying fee is a red herring,” King said. “To accept the fee, they would have had to accept the document Pastor Heard attempted to present on Aug. 3 (the deadline to qualify as an independent.)

“Our position is they should have accepted the document and fee, but the elections board decided wrongly that he was not a qualified candidate. Pastor Heard’s name should be on the ballot.”

Elections Board Attorney Ed Collier fired back.

“Every decision the board made applied to applicable law,” Collier said. “He (Heard) never filed as a candidate because his agent (Clinton Johnson) took the document back and then destroyed it.

“All we are asking the court to do is uphold state law, and that is what we are charged to do.”

Four witnesses were called to the stand Monday, including Elections office employee Sharon Armbrust, who testified that Johnson entered the Elections office with Heard’s Notice of Candidacy just prior to the noon deadline on Aug. 3.

She said she time-stamped the document and asked Johnson if it was an original. Armbrust said at that point Johnson took the document, folded it up, placed in in his pocket and left the office.

That time-stamped document was later shredded.

When board chair Alan Pendleton was on the stand, King asked him, “Should the clerk (Armbrust) have accepted the document?”

“You can’t accept what is taken back,” Pendleton replied. “The clerk probably should have kept the document, filed it and then the board would have made a determination later.”

Dougherty Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson acknowledged that Armbrust had made a mistake in time-stamping the document and then letting Johnson take it back.

“The paperwork was never rejected,” Nickerson testified. “Clinton Johnson took the Notice of Candidacy back from Sharon.”

Heard later qualified in August to run as a write-in candidate against Price.

His attorneys, King and Henry Williams, pointed out the varying numbers they have gotten from the Elections office in regard to the number of qualified petition signatures needed to get Heard on the ballot, even if the judge agrees that the nominating procedure was flawed.

During a three-day petition-signing flurry, Heard’s representatives turned in 3,258 signatures just before a noon deadline Aug. 6.

The Elections office originally said 2,911 verified signatures were needed, then backed down to 2,632 after deciding that 5 percent of the county’s 52,644 registered voters in Nov. of 2008 was the determining number.

Nickerson’s office vetted 2,772 signatures, but verified only 1,897, leaving Heard well short of the qualifying number.

At that point, Williams made a motion for an injunction in regard to November’s at-large race.

“This (Elections) office has displayed a pattern and a perpetuation of a comedy of errors,” William said in making his motion, which was quickly denied by Porter.

The hearing is expected to conclude today with Johnson expected to take the stand sometime this morning.

Comments

FryarTuk 1 year, 6 months ago

Ginger Nickerson and the entire staff and election board should be dismissed summarily. The place is run so haphazardly it is comical. I helped my new neighbor change registration to vote and we were both exhausted after trying to find out which district he is in. My wife had a heck of a time getting an absentee ballot for the summer primary and the document to request a ballot did not include an address to mail it to. I have no doubt Heard failed to properly qualify but I will say one thing, Nickerson has an uphill fight to prove her case. After the Veleeta Riggins case I don't trust anybody in the City or County governments to know reality.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 6 months ago

Waste of taxpayers money. But this will not go into welfare pockets, so I am for it.

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doingwhatisright 1 year, 6 months ago

If the Board of Elections is at fault, so be it. Regardless, I do not believe Heard has any interest in being a member of the DCSS BOE. Fifteen years that I've been in the system never have I seen him, heard from him, or know of anything he has done for the children , the parents, the teachers, nor the DCSS community. Honestly, why now?

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MRKIA 1 year, 6 months ago

WRONG. TO KEEP IT STUPID AND 2ND RATE.

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bubbasmithredneck 1 year, 6 months ago

Ginger Nickerson's staff has made mistakes and should be held accountable. Heard did nothing wrong other than try to get on the ballot. His application should have never been rejected in the first place. I believe Heard is going to win his case.

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USTPC 1 year, 6 months ago

Of course you do. I also bet that the fact that he did not have enough legitimate signatures should be ignored, right? Even if the Notification Of Candidacy had been accepted and the fee paid he did not have enough legitimate signatures to qualify which makes the first two issues irrelevent. If he did not have enough legitimate signatures he should not be on the ballot. End of story.

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MRKIA 1 year, 6 months ago

LOGIC IS FOREIGN TO THE LOCAL IDIOTCRACY

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tywebb 1 year, 6 months ago

Troll alert!!!!! do not feed!!!!!

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jglass 1 year, 6 months ago

Did you not read what the person, Sharon, said? She simply asked if it was an original and he took the document back. After reading the different stories I have read and after reading the testimony, what did the elections office do wrong again?? From testimony, he didn't have an original submitted, the fee??? well that is questionable in itself. And the number of legitimate signatures????????????? Well, I come up with three strikes, however, because it is Albany, GA he will get away with doing the entire procedure WRONG!!!! Just doesn't make sense to me.

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mr_nobody 1 year, 6 months ago

I posted this yesterday on a related article.

"I'm noticing a trend in Albany lately. Submit inaccurate paperwork (either deliberately or not, doesn't matter), blame undesired result on incompetent office staff, achieve desired result in court. Seems like there is a lack of attention to detail in both those submitting paperwork and those processing paper work. A nice round of accepting responsibility by all parties would be a nice change. But, that's not part of the strategy, and won't get the desired result."

It would be refreshing to see someone step up and say AT THE MINIMUM "You know what, I unintentionally made a mistake, and it's MY mistake." Instead, Albanians go to court and try to pass blame and buck the system. I'm usually one of the first to defend a pastor and a church. Not this time. This whole shenanigan is a disgrace.

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ConcernedCitizen12 1 year, 6 months ago

This is awful. Absolutely awful. You have a man that is only running because Lane Price is white. A pastor either creating false signatures and/or getting signatures from outside of the district - most likely from his congregation which is also illegal. Its sickening that people can live such corrupt lives, boast about it to the media about how holy and great they are, and, worse, get away with it in court. The people of Albany need to start understanding the magnitude of what's going on in our legal system and government here. I get daily e-mails about break-ins and murders in my neighborhood, watch gang violence go rampant, see the likes of Velvet Riggins lie, steal and get away with it, and all the people in high places are doing is looking out for number one and the friends around them. I'm not perfect, but I hope these people reap what they sow one day.

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mr_nobody 1 year, 6 months ago

It appears that someone who rarely is told "no" was told "no." While I do not know Pastor Heard, I do know pastors who, when being told no, fight even harder just because they feel they have absolute authority and must do "God's will."

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hotdog 1 year, 6 months ago

That is a piss poor bootleg method to try and get on the ballot....Yes she was wrong for stamping it and should be reprimanded, but a man of God shoud know and do better

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MRKIA 1 year, 6 months ago

NO PROBLEM ON THE STAMPING. HEARD STILL DID NOT HAVE ENOUGH SIGNATURES BY A LONG SHOT.

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MRKIA 1 year, 6 months ago

NO WONDER CROOKS FLOCK TO THIS TOWN. EASY PICKINGS.

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jglass 1 year, 6 months ago

AMEN.................hotdog!!!!!

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bubbasmithredneck 1 year, 6 months ago

You guys are sulking because Obama is gonna win in November and if Heard wins his case.......you are gonna looking like BIG FOOLS AGAIN......

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hotdog 1 year, 6 months ago

I am an Obama supporter but this is bootleg....and the POTUS is irrelevant

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