Ward Two complaint goes to court

The case of the dispute over the Ward 2 election has moved out of the court of public opinion and into the court of Dougherty County Friday.

"You can't right wrong with more wrong. You've got to do the right thing we've just really go to make this right," said Former Ward 2 Commissioner candidate Melissa Strother.

Strother is asking Judge Joe Bishop to grant a special called election with Ivey Hines. Officially, Hines beat Strother during the original election last month.

But Strother and her attorney take issue with the fact that another candidate, Cheryl Calhoun's name was also on the ballot despite already being disqualified from the election.

Calhoun was kicked out because while initially allowed to register for the Ward 2 election, she in fact lived in Ward One which wasn't discovered until weeks later. Calhoun still received more than 250 votes. Had those votes been counted it would have been enough to force a runoff between Strother and Hines.

"This is not a case where the candidate withdrew. Mrs. Calhoun was disqualified, not by any wrong doing of her own, but by the negligence of the Elections Department," said Storther's attorney Kermit Dorough.

Electiond officials say after the disqualification it was too late re-make the ballots without Calhoun's name. Even with her name on the ballot signs were posted at all Ward 2 voting precincts noting Calhoun's ineligibility.

And the city attorney says it was all done according to state law.

"There is no case there. State law says that Calhoun ballots were void and shall not be counted," said City Attorney Nathan Davis.

But Strother, her attorney and even Cheryl Calhoun are putting the ball in the city's court asking for another election.

"It's very disappointing to me as a citizen to come into court today and have Ms. Nickerson take the stand and refuse to take the responsibility or any culpability for the negligence of her department," said Dorough.

"This has absolutely nothing to do with Ivey Hines, nothing to do with Cheryl Calhoun. This is all stemming from a mistake, nobody's fault just a mistake made by the elections office," said Storther.

"I knew that it was a domino effect to affect Melissa Storther. And I feel like I need to stand by her and if this had happened to Mr. Hines, I would have stood by him also," said Calhoun.

Judge Bishop isn't expected to make a decision on the case until at least a couple of weeks.

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