A mayoral candidate, whose eligibility was questioned last week in an administrative hearing after it was discovered she was not a registered voter in the city, has filed a civil suit in Rockdale County Superior Court against the city of Conyers for allegedly failing to notify the candidate about the hearing.
An administrative hearing was held by the city elections supervisor on Friday, Sept. 20 on issues and conflicting residential addresses that Olivia Holmes Ware had submitted to Rockdale County voter registration, Ga. Department of Driver Services, Newton County courts, and Newton County voter registration.Ware did not appear for the hearing, despite being mailed notifications, voice messages and an attempt to hand deliver a notificiation.
In the civil lawsuit, filed Tuesday, Ware accused the city of failing to notify her of the administrative hearing and asked the court for a jury trial and to award her compensatory damages for emotional distress and attorney's fees.
According to City Attorney Mike Waldrop, Ware was sent a letter via certified mail about the hearing on Sept. 17 to all three addresses in question - at Peaks Landing in the city, Coal Shovel Trail in Rockdale County and Mt. Zion Road in Newton County. "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," wrote City Election Superintendent Pat Smith.
Waldrop said he had also 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."
City staff had called and talked with her, arranging to meet at a location to deliver the letter. But when the officer went there to deliver the letter, no one came to the door. A car that a neighbor identified as belonging to Ware was at the location and a light was on in the building. The neighbor said he had never known the car to be there and Ware not to be there at the same time. Waldrop said the city had called the number where they had reached her previously and left a message with the time and date of the hearing.
Ware submitted a Peaks Landing address on her candidacy affidavit and said she had been a resident of the city for a year and the county for two years.
However, the Rockdale County elections office discovered she had transferred her voter registration on Aug. 16 from Newton County to the Coal Shovel Trail address in the Milstead district, which is in Rockdale County and not the city of Conyers. On Aug. 30, the last day for candidate qualification, Ware changed her address with DDS to a Peaks Landing address, which is in the city of Conyers. Ware also claimed a Mt. Zion Road address for her residence in documents submitted for divorce proceedings in Newton County courts. She had also voted in the November 2012 general election in Newton County.
Mayoral candidates are required to be a registered voter in the city and have been a resident of the city of Conyers for at least one year as of the election date (Nov. 5, 2013).
False swearing on affidavits can carry a felony charge in Georgia.
Ware is already under a pre-trial diversion program for charges of theft by receiving which would end May 2014, if she complies with the requirements.
At the time of her arrest by Conyers police in January 2013, which involved charges of stealing office chairs from her landlord and law enforcement obstruction, she was booked in jail under the Coal Shovel Trail address.