The eligibility of Conyers mayoral candidate Olivia Holmes Ware is being questioned after it was discovered that Ware is not a registered voter in the city of Conyers, has provided various addresses to local courts and state agencies within the past year, and voted in Newton County last year.
Mayoral candidates are required to be registered voters in the city and must have been residents of the city of Conyers for at least one year as of the election date (Nov. 5, 2013).
At a hearing held at 10 a.m. Friday by Conyers Elections Supervisor Pat Smith, testimony was heard from Rockdale County Elections Supervisor Cynthia Welch, Newton County Elections Supervisor Donna Morrison, Department of Driver Services official Lavern Walker, and an officer who attempted to serve a letter of notice to Ware.
Ware did not attend the hearing, but reportedly contacted city officials Friday afternoon and asked to pick up a copy of the letter, which had requested that she attend the hearing and present documentation on her eligibility. As of the close of business Friday, Ware had not picked up the letter, according to City Attorney Mike Waldrop.
Ware filed for candidacy on Aug. 30 and submitted a signed statement saying that she had been a legal resident of Rockdale County for two consecutive years and a legal resident of the Olde Town district in the city for one year. She submitted a Peaks Landing address on her candidacy paperwork, which also contained the statement, "I understand that any false statement knowingly made by me in this Notice of Candidacy and Affidavit will subject me to criminal penalties as provided by law.’’
However, Welch said that her office, which is contracted by Conyers to run the city’s elections, had found while confirming the eligibility of all the candidates that Ware was not registered to vote in the city of Conyers.
Ware was registered to vote under a Coal Shovel Trail NE address, which is in the Milstead district in Rockdale County and not within the city limits.
Ware had transferred her voter registration from Newton County on Aug. 16 by going to the Department of Driver Services to change the address on her voter registration card.
Two weeks later, on Aug. 30, she went back to DDS to change her voter registration address to the Peaks Landing address.
The Elections office also found that Ware had claimed a homestead for property taxes in Newton County at a Mt. Zion Road, Oxford, address.
City Attorney Waldrop said Ware also filed divorce papers in Newton County in October 2012 that said she was a resident of Newton County.
A letter from City Election Superintendent Pat Smith about Friday’s hearing was sent on Sept. 17 to all three addresses - at Peaks Landing, Coal Shovel Trail and Mt. Zion Road.
"I will likewise allow you the opportunity to present evidence and information to support your contention that you are qualified to run for the Office of Mayor in the November 5, 2013, City Election," Smith wrote.
Waldrop said he sent a letter a week ago about the issues.
"We began to try to notify her Tuesday that we’re going to have a hearing Friday morning. We mailed the letters to each of the three addresses that she has used. In addition, we attempted to have a letter in the same fashion of the first letter hand-delivered to her."
He said officials had called and made contact with her, arranging to meet at a location to deliver the letter. A car that a neighbor identified as belonging to Ware was at the location, but no one answered the door of the building. Waldrop said officials called the number where they had reached her previously and left a message with the time and date of the hearing.
Ware was also arrested and charged with felony theft by receiving, but is under a pre-trial diversion program which would end in May 2014, according to Welch.
However, Waldrop pointed out that the sets of paperwork that Ware had filed in Newton County, with DDS, with Rockdale County, and with the city of Conyers with different residential addresses were all sworn affidavits "that
are in conflict with each other, all of which can’t be true."
False swearing can reportedly carry a felony charge in Georgia.
City Elections Supervisor Pat Smith had not issued a conclusion and Ware had not withdrawn from the race as of Friday.
After a decision is made, Ware would have 10 days to appeal to Superior Court.
Calls to Ware were not returned by press time.
On her candidacy application, she identified herself as a 54-year-old entrepreneur and minister.
On her Facebook page, Ware commented on another mayoral candidate, Kathy Harvey, saying that "Kathy Lorraine Harvey has worked under Mrs. Ware and feels that the community (is) undeserving of her presence … Is this who you want as mayor?"
Harvey, who was confirmed by the Rockdale County Elections Supervisor’s office as eligible for this year’s race, had previously run for mayor in 2009. At that time, she was facing a felony theft charge in Newton County, but received first-offender status.