CANTON — Clashes between a potential independent candidate and residents persist as a former tea party leader attempts to fill up her petition to run against Cherokee Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens in November. In recent weeks, residents have complained of harassment and conflicts with Carolyn Cosby, former chair of the Canton T.E.A. Party, and her supporters outside the tax office in Woodstock, said Cherokee Tax Commissioner Sonya Little.
“We’ve had taxpayers wanting to be walked out to their cars,” Little said Thursday, adding she was working to serve the rights of Cosby and residents visiting the tax office. “I really don’t know who’s instigating what, because this is all happening outside. With them being outside and with my camera not having sound, you’re really not going to know the whole story.” Cosby denies she has been harassing anyone, just as she did when she was asked to leave the Canton Post Office earlier this month after officials advised she and her supporters were breaking federal law by petitioning there. “Consider this: we have over 5,000 signatures at this point.
Do you think we could have gotten those if we were harassing people?” Cosby, 63, a native of Maine and resident of Ball Ground, said Thursday. “Everyone knows that we’re not.”
Cosby is attempting to collect the 5,982 signatures of registered voters required by law to get on the ballot as an independent candidate in the Nov. 4 general election against Ahrens, who she has criticized for years.
Qualifying for independents ends today, and Cosby also said she plans to go to the elections office to sign on before the deadline. She said she has been waiting to feel more confident she’s up to the daunting task of getting the signatures and some extras, because they all have to be verified as registered Cherokee voters.
With the deadline for the signatures approaching July 8, Cosby plans to continue her petition drive at government buildings because of the foot traffic, she said.
Early Thursday afternoon, Cosby sent a letter to Little, saying she would be forced to take legal action if Little didn’t bend on an “unconstitutional” ruling a county attorney made about where Cosby and her supporters could stand at the tax office.
“You may not personally bear the cost of such a lawsuit,” Cosby wrote to Little, “but the citizens will be responsible for the legal fees involved in correcting your violation. I am asking you to do your duty, protect citizens’ First Amendment rights and avoid unnecessary legal costs. Because time is of the essence, I am asking for your response by 2 p.m. today.”
Little said she and Cosby hopefully came to an agreement later Thursday allowing Cosby and her supporters to stand behind a barrier near the door, so as not to be in the path of residents going inside. “I’m going to try to get (the barriers) out by in the morning,” Little said. “We’re going to try it.” The barriers may or may not work to stop the incidents altogether, but Little says she’s hopeful things will calm down, because the situation, whoever is at fault, has become a disturbance to business.
The tax commissioner cited one incident when the police were called Monday. According to a report from Woodstock Police, Cosby called 911 to report resident Tim Crane — who Cosby has also criticized — was bothering her.
The report said Cosby told the officer Crane asked her questions and she said she didn’t want to talk to him, but he wouldn’t leave her alone until her husband went to get security.
“Cosby advised that upon leaving, Crane patted her on the back and said something to the extent of ‘good luck with your ethics,’” the report says, apparently showing Crane was referencing pending campaign ethics charges against Cosby. “Cosby recorded the incident on her phone. However, no criminal act could be determined off of the video.”
Crane said Thursday he wasn’t harassing Cosby and if she won’t answer simple questions, “she shouldn’t be on the ballot.”
Cosby has previously criticized Crane for his alleged role in Cherokee County’s decision to shoot down a company from buying the controversial Ball Ground Recycling facility, allegations which Crane strongly denies.