BOE at-large write-in candidate Lorenzo Heard announced Tuesday he is withdrawing his lawsuit against the Dougherty County Board of Elections.
ALBANY, Ga. — Lorenzo Heard told reporters and supporters Tuesday that he will drop a lawsuit filed against the Dougherty County Board of Elections to get onto the ballot for the Nov. 6 election and instead pin his hopes on write-in votes to win a Dougherty County School Board seat.
Heard, the pastor at Greater 2nd Mt. Olive Baptist Church, has been certified as a write-in candidate, meaning that any votes that have been written for the Dougherty County School Board at-large seat will be counted. He’s opposing Democrat Lane Price, who beat incumbent Anita Williams-Brown in the July primary election. There is no Republican nominee.
“We are withdrawing our lawsuit against the Dougherty County Board of Elections to concentrate on our write-in campaign,” Heard said. “We reached this decision after talking with supporters and our staff and discovered the write-in campaign and lawsuit were causing lot of confusion among the voters. People were asking if their vote was going to count.
“We’re not giving up, but to wait any longer would be detrimental to the campaign.”
Heard sued the Board of Elections in late August after it determined in a unanimous vote that he was not qualified to be included on the ballot for the race as an independent candidate because he lacked the requisite number of signatures and failed to properly fill out the paperwork needed to qualify.
Earlier this month, Superior Court Judge J. Richard Porter III held two days of hearings and gave Elections Board attorney Ed Collier and Heard attorneys Maurice King and Henry Williams until this Friday to file written closing arguments.
The motion to dismiss came as a surprise to Collier.
“If the dismissal was filed, it means the lawsuit should have never been filed in the first place,” Collier said. “Their whole case was built on false affidavits — both the Notice of Candidacy and the petition signatures. I plan on filing a motion for attorney fees. There is no reason the taxpayers of Dougherty County should have to pay the bill to defend such a flimsy case.”
Heard’s attorney didn’t see it that way.
“This was a very difficult decision to reach because the merits of the case favor the pastor,” Williams said. “As an attorney, I am not the boss. Rev. Heard is the boss and he wants to focus on the campaign rather than a lawsuit. We made our case before the judge and I am satisfied that the Board of Elections flubbed it. It’s time we fixed the corruption in our elections office.
“This is a long way from being over.”
Heard contended that it was the elections office that erred when employees there refused to accept his original application. He also disputed the number of signatures that were required as offered up by elections officials.
As the news conference ended, Heard vowed to conduct a vigorous campaign in the short time left before the election.
“We are going to continue to make phone calls and knock on doors,” Heard said. “We want to give the people a choice in November. A write-in candidate has never won an election in the state of Georgia. We can be the first.”