Board of Education candidate Horace Don Gresham's qualification for the District 2 seat has been challenged and a hearing is set for 2 p.m. on Monday.
Gresham's neighbor Nikkia Lovejoy wrote a letter to the Board of Elections protesting Gresham's candidacy and has asked that officials probe into the validity of his Declaration of Candidacy Affidavit he signed last week.
"Mr. Gresham should not even be considered for a seat on the board due to, not only his previous conviction, but also because he has yet to fulfill the 10 year waiting period required of him before running for public office," Lovejoy said in her letter to the board of elections. "It is of my opinion that he should NEVER be allowed to run for a seat on the Board of Education. Not in 2010 or any other time for that matter."
Gresham qualified last week to run for the BOE but has since come under fire after court documents revealed he is ineligible to qualify to run for public office due to a felony sodomy charge in 1988 that included a 12-year sentence. The affidavit mandates candidates must wait at least 10 years upon completion of their sentence before running for any public office.
"I've got two young boys in Newton County schools, both in District 2, and it's not right that anyone who has harmed children like that should be put in a position like that," she said. "I have had personal contact with Mr. Gresham, and he is not a pleasant individual. There is no way in hell I want a man like that to serve on the board of education."
Lovejoy lives next door to Gresham on Creekside Lane, a neighborhood less than one-half mile from Veterans Memorial Middle and West Newton Elementary schools.
Lovejoy said she first met Gresham right after her family moved from Tennessee. She added he introduced himself and immediately complained to her about a mutual neighbor who owned a vintage muscle car with a loud engine
"I knew he was an odd guy as soon as I met him," she recalls. "The first thing he said to me after he complained about the neighbor's car was that people on the street spread lies about him and for me not to listen to them."
Lovejoy said she always felt uneasy around Gresham and jumped at the opportunity to protest his qualification once she learned of his past and his apparent deception.
Lovejoy isn't the first to come forward and challenge Gresham's candidacy. Dennis Horion, an advocate against child abuse, attempted to dispute Gresham's qualification on Wednesday. But since he is not registered to vote in District 2, the board refused his protest.
"It is important to understand that silence isn't golden in this situation," Horian said. "Failure to ask the questions does not make these issues go away."
Horian went so far as to demand Gresham be held accountable for lying to the election board when he signed his affidavit.
Even though the board dismissed Horian's protest, he remained hopeful another resident would come forward to challenge the retired postal worker.
In addition, he said a group of concerned citizens planned to ride their horses throughout District 2 and hand out flyers in an attempt to encourage someone to come forward.
But that may now be a moot point. Lovejoy said she will do whatever it takes to make sure Gresham doesn't have the opportunity to continue his candidacy.
"I plan on attending the meeting on Monday," she said. "I wasn't told I needed to, but I'll go. I would be sickened if he were allowed to have an opportunity to run for the position on the board."