Because she did not meet the city's residency requirements, Gigi Shinall, a candidate for Porterdale city office in November, has been deemed ineligible to run for city council.
The decision was made Monday by Porterdale Elections Superintendent Tom Fox after a Friday hearing on the matter which Shinall and Linda Finger - who raised the official challenge to Shinall's eligibility - both attended.
Shinall, who owns an alterations shop in the Porterdale Mill Lofts, said she will not be appealing Fox's decision to the Newton County Superior Court.
"I'm not going to fight it," Shinall said Tuesday. "I wish Porterdale the best and I'm done."
Shinall was in the running for Porterdale's Council Post 2 seat.
With Shinall's disqualification, the race has been paired down to Finger and John Kottl.
In a letter sent to Shinall and Finger giving his decision, Fox - who also serves as Porterdale's police chief and city manager - wrote that he was basing his decision largely on a homestead exemption still in place under Shinall's name on a house located outside Porterdale city limits on Washington Street.
A homestead exemption is a tax exemption for property taxes applied to a house and can only be legally claimed on a property that is the owner's primary residence.
"It does not appear that a written application has been filed for the new residence address of the candidate," reads Fox's decision. "While the law does not require a person to file for a homestead exemption, had a new application been filed for the candidate's city of Porterdale address, the issue of residency qualification clearly would be resolved in favor of the candidate's qualification."
Porterdale's city charter requires that "no person shall be eligible to serve as mayor or council member unless that person shall have been a resident of the city for 12 months immediately prior to the date of the election."
Porterdale's elections are on Nov. 6. At the hearing Shinall stated she had been living in a live/work space apartment at the Porterdale Mill Lofts since at least the beginning of October when she signed a lease/purchase agreement. Shinall stated that at the time she registered she believed she was well within the city's residency requirements.
"That was my honest mistake and I hate it and I was really looking forward to helping Porterdale," Shinall said.
Shinall said she forgot about the homestead exemption after her first house on Washington Street burned down several years ago.
After she had the house rebuilt, Shinall said she thought the homestead exemption had ended. Shinall said her property tax bills since then did not specifically indicate a homestead exemption but only a Geographic Information Systems map reference number.
"On my tax bill it doesn't say homestead 'yes' or homestead 'no,'" Shinall said. "I think that the tax commissioners should put it on when they send out a bill."
While she is pleased with Fox's decision, Finger said she has been getting the cold shoulder from members of the community as a result of her eligibility challenge to Shinall.
"I didn't do it for any other purpose than to see that things were done right," Finger said. "I feel like a lot of people really don't understand the magnitude of what was going on."
Finger said she first began looking into Shinall's residency after she heard comments from several people questioning where Shinall lived.
"It was just a matter of really asking questions," Finger said. "It's all a matter of public record. All it took was an idea and a few phone calls to start gathering information."