Election board to hear case of new commissioner
by Megan Thornton
October 25, 2012 12:39 AM | 1682 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — The Cherokee County Board of Elections unanimously decided Wednesday to move forward with a hearing to determine County Commissioner-Elect Brian Poole’s eligibility to take office in January.

The hearing will be at 10 a.m. Oct. 31 at Cherokee Hall in the Cherokee County Administration Building. County Attorney Angie Davis said a notification letter will be sent to Poole by County Elections Supervisor Janet Munda regarding the hearing.

Poole was not in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting.

The decision to conduct the hearing came following an hour-and-a-half-long executive session at the Elections Office in Canton.

The board took up Poole’s eligibility after a challenge was filed last week by attorney Jeff Rusbridge on behalf of several Cherokee residents alleging Poole failed to pay state and local taxes in the state of Alabama amounting to $38,599.09.

After the board reconvened Wednesday and voted on the matter, there was no further discussion.

Board member Donald Sams was not present.

Also identified Wednesday were Rusbridge’s clients who filed the challenge against the Towne Lake resident. Rusbridge said in an email Wednesday morning the group is comprised of citizens from Post 3 and the county at large. They include: Chris Hampton, Scott Ault, Teisha Ault, Jamey Cagle, Connie Miller, Bryan Roach, Eric Love and Linda Flory.

Poole, general manager of Woodstock Funeral Home, beat Hampton for the District 3 seat in the July 31 Republican Primary after County Commissioner Karen Bosch announced she would not seek re-election.

Poole has no Democratic opponent in the Nov. 6 general election and is set to take the position Jan. 1.

Both Hampton and Roach sit on the Cherokee County Recreation and Parks Advisory Board.

When contacted Wednesday afternoon, Poole said he had just been notified of the Board of Elections’ decision through local media reports.

“Let’s see what happens next Wednesday and go from there,” Poole said.

Poole also said he was made aware through a local news outlet the identities of the eight people filing the challenge.

He said he had no further comment on his reaction to the decision.

“Me and my attorney will go through everything next Wednesday when we get done with the meeting,” Poole said. “We’ll have our statement next week.”

Poole identified his attorney as former Cherokee County Magistrate Judge Charles Robertson.

In April 2004, the state Supreme Court ruled Robertson should step down from his elected position, determining he should have disclosed on his application to run for judge in 2000 that he was convicted of crimes while in the military.

Davis said during Wednesday’s meeting that under O.C.G.A. section 21-2-6(b), notice has to be provided the candidate to come forward and address certain issues related to eligibility under the state constitution.

The statute says for any candidate for local office, any elector eligible to vote on the office in question can file a challenge to the candidate’s qualifications with the elections superintendent.

The superintendent can file a challenge to the candidate’s qualifications at any time up until the election, according to the statute, and the elections superintendent determines whether the challenge should be granted following the hearing.

“It’s simply a hearing to provide him the opportunity to come and address any concerns or questions we have about eligibility,” Davis said.

With Election Day on Nov. 6, Davis noted the deadline is tight.

“That’s why we’re trying to move as quickly as possible once we became aware of this information,” Davis said.

She said the goal of the board is to adjourn into executive session following next week’s hearing to deliberate.

“We’ll make a decision at that time if we can,” Davis said. “If there’s additional information we believe we need to research or review then we’ll take time to do that, but our goal would be to render decision by the board as quickly as possible.”

If Poole is determined ineligible, Davis said Poole’s name would remain on the ballot but notices would be posted at all the appropriate polling locations to advise he is not a candidate to be considered.

Then, a special election would be called for the seat, Davis said.

“If he were deemed ineligible, then he has a right of appeal,” Davis said.
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