While Porterdale's elections superintendent has confirmed city council candidate Wayne Maddox's eligibility to run for office, questions remain on whether Maddox would be able to take the city's Oath of Office if elected.
Porterdale City Manager and Elections Superintendent Tom Fox said that after reviewing the Official Code of Georgia Annotated as it pertained to persons not eligible to hold office with City Attorney Tim Chambers, he determined that Maddox was eligible to run for the vacant Council Post 3 seat on Feb. 5 despite an unpaid $5,275 judgment Maddox owes the city.
According to O.C.G.A. Article 2 Section 2 Paragraph 3, persons are not eligible to hold office if they are "a defaulter of any federal, state, county, municipal or school system taxes" or are the "holder of public funds illegally."
In December 2003, Newton County Magistrate Court ordered Maddox to pay the city of Porterdale $5,275 for unpaid insurance premiums. As Mayor of Porterdale in 2001, Maddox placed his wife on the city's insurance policy but failed to reimburse the city for the $5,221 in premiums as required under the terms of a city resolution.
According to Fox, Maddox has not reimbursed the city the $5,275 as ordered by the court.
On Saturday Maddox said he could not comment on the court's judgment as it was still under litigation.
Fox disagreed however saying, "I don't think that's true. As far as I know there's never been an appeal. There's nothing pending. He just owes the money and he hasn't paid."
Fox said that since the $5,275 does not count as taxes owed to the city, it does not make Maddox ineligible to run.
"It's my understanding that he probably would [be eligible] because we're not dealing with tax money," Fox said. "I don't think he illegally withheld the funds so it would appear from our advice from the city attorney that this could not bar him."
Questions remain though on Maddox's ability to take the city's Oath of Office if elected.
The city of Portedale's Oath of Office states "I ____ do solemnly swear.... that I am not the holder of any unaccounted for public money do this state or any political subdivision or authority thereof."
When asked if the unaccounted for $5,275 would count as public money owed to the city and so prevent Maddox from taking the Oath of Office, which all elected city officials must take before they are sworn in, City Attorney Chambers said he had not looked at the Oath of Office when examining Maddox's eligibility and so could not comment on it.
"That's one of those questions I can't comment on," Chambers said adding that he would have to be specifically directed by the council to investigate it.
Fox said he believed that Maddox would be able to take the Oath of Office if elected.
"I think it would still fall under the state constitution. I don't think we could use that as a reason to not allow him to take the oath," Fox said. "There could be additional information that maybe we've missed something but right now it appears that he could."
Asked if he could take the Oath of Office if elected, Maddox answered "Yes I can."
Speaking on his eligibility to run for office, Maddox highlighted his 24 years of prior experience in Porterdale office including 12 years as mayor.
"I think I know a lot about the town and I think I'll be good for the council," Maddox said.
Maddox resigned from the position of mayor at the end of 2002 after the city council passed a resolution charging him with malfeasance, misfeasance and neglect of duty.
According to Fox, the cost of a special election such as the one taking place on Feb. 5 typically costs the city under $1,000. An alcohol referendum for that date had been planned in advance Fox said so when former Councilman Perry Barnett announced his resignation it seemed logical to schedule the two matters for the same date.