MOULTRIE, Ga. — The election for Moultrie City Council’s District 1 Post 1 seat faces controversy as one of the three candidates has talked about dropping out and another has been disqualified.
Incumbent councilwoman Lisa Clarke Hill is being challenged by Steven Reynolds and Eddie Warren. All three qualified Aug. 23 to run for the seat. The election will be held Nov. 5.
Election Superintendent Tina Coleman disqualified Reynolds Friday, Sept. 13, following a hearing held Wednesday, Sept. 11. The hearing was a result of a challenge on Reynolds’ candidacy.
As per Georgia Law O.C.G.A. 21-2-6 (b), “within two weeks after the deadline for qualifying, any elector who is eligible to vote for any such candidate may challenge the qualifications of the candidate by filing a written complaint with the superintendent giving the reasons why the elector believes the candidate is not qualified to seek and hold the public office for which the candidate is offering.”
That elector was Timothy Hill, an extended school services employee and husband to Lisa Clarke Hill. He said he raised the issue for honesty’s sake.
“When it comes to candidacy, you have to be honest,” he said. “That’s anyone who wants to run.”
Hill’s challenge alleged that Reynolds lived at 2424 Jacqueline Circle and held a lease interest in 1915 Blossom Court. Both are in District 2 and are contrary to the address Reynolds put on the affidavit he filed at qualifying, 424 Third Ave. N.W.
If true, this would be a violation of O.C.G.A. 45-2-1 (6), which requires officeholders to live within the area they represent for a period of time set by the Constitution and state law.
“That just raises a question about the affidavit,” Hill said.
Hill said he found the information through hearsay but still felt the need to bring it up in the official challenge.
“I cannot say anything bad about anyone, but the question remains: What is the truth?” he said. “The people in the community deserve the truth.”
In a statement released Sept. 13, Coleman wrote that she received the challenge on Aug. 26 and notified Reynolds of it on Aug. 28. Still having not heard from him on Sept. 4, she set up the hearing on Sept. 11 at 3:30 p.m.
Reynolds was present and brought a Georgia driver’s license receipt, a building permit for 424 Third Ave. dated Oct. 24, 2006, mortgage documentation and a rental affidavit for 2424 Jacqueline Circle, as well as bank ledgers, according to the statement.
Coleman reviewed tax and real estate records for Reynolds prior to the hearing and found him to have a homestead exemption on 2424 Jacqueline Circle since at least 2016. The 424 Third Ave. address has a homestead exemption too, but in the name of Mattie Jones.
Reynolds stated that he owned and had homestead exemptions on each property and leased the Blossom Court property “during a period of separation and divorce” in 2016, Coleman’s statement said.
As for the Jacqueline Circle address, Reynolds said he’d been renting the home to his son, Sherard Reynolds, since July 2016.
Reynolds said he’d been living at 424 Third Ave. N.W. “continuously for several years” and used the Blossom Court address to “entertain ladies and visitors,” the statement said. He said he hasn’t lived at 2424 Jacqueline Circle since his 2016 divorce.
Reynolds’ license reflected his home address as 424 Third Ave. N.W., but it had been changed to that the day of the hearing, Coleman’s statement said.
The statement said the only other thing supporting his residency contention was his District 1 voter registration, which was done on Nov. 5, 2002. With information inconsistent, Coleman decided upon disqualification.
“My decision is not final. If they (Reynolds and Hill) don’t like my decision either person can challenge it with Superior Court within 10 days,” she said.
Neither has officially contested the decision, but Coleman said Reynolds came to her office Monday, Sept. 16, and said he’d be doing so.
Warren’s situation and decision was more voluntary.
The Moultrie Observer contacted Warren Aug. 29 to profile him as part of a series of stories profiling the candidates, but he said he was unsure if he’d continue candidacy. In a call made to him on Sept. 9, Warren told the Observer he was “officially” resigning.
According to Coleman, Warren has yet to officially resign with the city and remains in the race until further notice.