MEIGS — Meigs Mayor Linda Harris was voted out of office Tuesday in a recall election by a margin of 94-48. According to Georgia Code 21-4-13 (2015), since more than one-half of the votes cast were in favor of recall, the Meigs mayor’s office will immediately become vacant once the votes are certified.
Thomas County Elections Supervisor Frank Scoggins said, according to Georgia law, a special election will be called to fill the vacancy. The code states, “The special election shall be called within 10 days after the date of the recall election and shall be conducted at least 30 days but not more than 45 days following the call. If no official is specifically designated by law or if the appropriate official has been recalled, the governor shall issue the call for a special election to fill the vacancy created by recall.”
Scoggins said the special election will most likely coincide with the scheduled runoff election on July 26.
Additionally, even though she was recalled, Harris is eligible to run for mayor again in the special election. She seems to have no plans to do so, however.
“The Lord has shown himself today,” she said after ther results were announced. “It was not the Lord’s will for me to remain in office.”
Meigs Councilwoman Lizzie Battle said, "Meigs is going to blossom like spring flowers now that she's recalled. It was time. I believe it was just time."
Rodney Hudson, a disabled veteran and Meigs resident, said on his way to vote Tuesday that he was “pretty confident the mayor would be voted out. Too many people want her out. This town has really run down since she’s been in office.”
Councilwoman Dorothy Wimes said, "This is the best thing that's happened in Meigs. She has had her time. It's time to let someone else have a try."
Tom White and his wife, Gail, and daughter, Lori, are co-owners of Meigs’ only restaurant. They spearheaded the recall effort. He said no matter how the election turned out they would continue doing what they are doing, working with the new Meigs Community Civic Club to bring positive change to their embattled small town.
Harris was elected mayor in 2013 by four votes. She was arrested in December of that year for allegedly stalking the mayor she defeated.
She took office in January 2014 was arrested again in April of that year for disorderly conduct and banned from City Hall. Both sets of charges were dropped in 2015.
In 2014, the city attorney and council approved an ordinance that stripped the mayor of most of her authority, moving it to the city manager.
During 2015, Meigs was hit with multiple lawsuits alleging hostile work environments which then-City Manager Sid Perry attributed to Harris. That fall, the city lost its insurance due to the lawsuits. Meigs re-insured late in 2015.
Last fall was quite turbulent for the little town just across the Colquitt County line in north Thomas County. The city manager and city clerk resigned, the recall petition was launched and successfully completed.
In October, Harris was arrested for allegedly stealing $80 from City Hall. She was charged with theft by taking and violation of oath of office. She was banned from City Hall again.
In January of this year, Harris was arrested again. This time for allegedly using city credit cards without authority from the city council for a Christmas party on Dec. 25, 2015.
Those two cases were presented to a Thomas County Superior Court grand jury early this month. She was indicted for the October charges but not those related to the Christmas party.
Throughout her tenure as mayor, she has fought to have her powers restored and to tie the hands of the Meigs Police Department. Last week, Harris and Councilman Jimmy Layton attempted to pass an ordinance that would make it illegal for Meigs police officers to arrest city council members. The ordinance died without coming up for a vote.