Georgia Supreme Court to hear Baker school board case
According to the Supreme Court of Georgia, two women are appealing a superior court ruling dismissing their petition to have a member of the Baker County Board of Education removed from office.
In May 2012, Sharon Heard filed an application to run as a candidate for the Baker County Board of Education. In June 2012, Mendell Cowart, a voter and taxpayer in Baker County, challenged Heard's qualifications, alleging she did not reside in Baker County and was not registered to vote in Baker County. On June 18, the County Board of Elections and Registration held a hearing on Cowart's challenge, during which Cowart argued that "a candidate has to be a registered voter in the county for a year to be qualified." The Board determined that Heard transferred her voter's registration to Baker County on April 30, 2012. At the hearing's conclusion, the Board entered its decision, finding that Heard had been a resident of Baker County for 12 months prior to the election as required by Official Code of Georgia 45-2-1. The Board also found that she was a registered voter at the time she qualified to run and there was no requirement that she be a registered voter for the full 12-month period of residency. Cowart was told she could appeal the Board's decision to the Baker County Superior Court within 10 days of the decision, but she never filed an appeal. On Nov. 6, 2012, Heard was elected to the school board and currently serves as its chair.
On July 10, 2013 â" more than seven months after Heard took office â" two other voters, Nettie Lilly and Janet Anderson â" filed a "Verified Complaint: Writ of Quo Warranto, Petition for Writ of Prohibition, Temporary Restraining Order, Injunction and/or Declaratory Relief" that sought to have Heard removed from her office on the school board. They argued Heard had not met the residency requirements to run for the office and that she had therefore been ineligible to seek the office. Heard filed a Motion to Dismiss their complaint, arguing it contained the same grounds for Heard's removal that Cowart had raised previously and that had been heard, considered and decided by the board of elections almost a year earlier. At the hearing on Heard's Motion to Dismiss, the attorney for Lilly and Anderson presented an amended complaint, alleging that they had an additional reason for removing Heard from office which was that she remained unqualified to serve "as Heard does not reside in the District that she represents." Following the hearing, the judge ruled in Heard's favor and granted her Motion to Dismiss. Lilly and Anderson now appeal to the state Supreme Court.
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