Carolyn Cosby, a political activist in Ball Ground, said she was stepping down as head of the Canton T.E.A. Party and beginning to collect the nearly 6,000 signatures she’ll need from residents to get on the ballot Nov. 4 as an independent.
Cosby, who describes herself as a “classical conservative” with Republican principles, plans to run as an independent, because the GOP primary passed last week. A final qualifying period for independents is set for June 23 to 27, and those who sign on to run must turn in 5,982 registered voters’ signatures to election officials by July 8, said Janet Munda, Cherokee elections supervisor.
“It’s going to be tough,” said Cosby, 62, a native of Maine. “If we were going to do this in the beginning, we would have started 180 days earlier. It’s going to be nip-and-tuck. We’re going to go for it.”
Cosby, who supported Jackie Archer in her unsuccessful bid against Ahrens in the primary, said she decided to run Wednesday because she feels the county can’t take a third term of what she sees as the chairman’s “incompetence.”
“We think the matters going on in the county are too serious to wait another four years; they must be dealt with,” she said, pointing to Ahrens’ role in the Ball Ground Recycling situation, which has county taxpayers paying $100,000 a month in payments on the closed plant. “The first solution is we need someone in there who would demonstrate good judgment. Ahrens, to this point, has demonstrated incompetence, despite his Yale (University) attendance. As a good businessman, he should know better than to put somebody else on the hook for someone else’s mistake — and it was a mistake.”
Ahrens, a 70-year-old retired Rubbermaid executive, beat Archer, a former Holly Springs City councilwoman, last Tuesday with 58 percent of the 21,397 votes. Archer couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday to ask if she’d support Cosby.
The chairman said Thursday Cosby might have a tough road ahead, because she’s starting her campaign so late in the game.
He added Cosby’s accusations of him have always been unfounded.
“Mrs. Cosby does nothing but make accusations against me personally,” he said. “Our tax digest is up 10 percent, the jobs are pouring in, we beat our budget the last two years. Are we any better off than we were eight years ago? Very, very, very seldom does she ever go below the surface. She throws out accusations and statements and really can’t substantiate them.”
Canton T.E.A. Party Vice Chair John Hiland said the group regrets losing Cobsy, but it supports her candidacy.
“The Canton T.E.A. Party has become one of the most influential political groups — under Mrs. Cosby’s leadership — in Cherokee County and in the state, with her recent campaign to stop Obamacare in Georgia and in our nation,” he said in a statement. “We are proud of Carolyn Cosby and her accomplishments.”
Cosby has been a critic of Ahrens and others for some time, regularly taking them him to task for what she said she feels are failures in office. She has called press conferences and issued press releases to blast officials, often related to Ball Ground Recycling. The closed plant has been an issue since its operator went out of business and the county was left to pay $100,000 a month in debt on the facility, debt which the county agreed to back in 2006.
Cosby criticized District Attorney Shannon Wallace during a phone interview Thursday for not pursuing charges against the county commissioners based on a forensic audit, which was conducted into the recycling plant situation. Wallace has said she agreed with state and local authorities, who felt the 7,345-page audit showed no illegal activity on the part of the commissioners.
Asked how she would fix the issue of the county’s debt on the plant, Cosby said, “Well that’s going to take some thinking, and we’ve got a lot of things we’re considering right now that we’re not ready to make public. But we believe there are some fixes that can be had.”
Though she has denied their validity, Cosby was connected to campaign ethics complaints filed with the state in 2012 by former Cherokee Commissioner Karen Bosch. One complaint was against Citizen’s Review and Recommendations Committee and one went after Cosby’s Canton T.E.A. Party.
In April 2013, the state ethics commission found “probable cause” to send both complaints to the Attorney General’s Office for further investigation. Cosby’s name, however, was removed from the CRRC complaint, though the commission plans to consider re-attaching her name at a later meeting.
Neither complaint has been resolved because of the state ethics commission’s lack of a staff attorney, state officials said Thursday.
Cosby has been clear she felt the complaints weren’t of merit and are “much ado about nothing.”
Cosby is a longtime homemaker, who said she has also served on many boards and committees through the years.
If elected, she said she wants to focus on solving the Ball Ground Recycling issue, as well as responsible growth, and keep her mind on what is best for the county.
“As a child, I was taught that the early Puritans recognized public servants as ‘ministers of God,’” she said. “It is my firm conviction that I am not only answerable to the families of Cherokee County, but to God himself for my actions as an elected official. I intend to conduct myself accordingly.”