Conkle's eligibility to run in question

By Justin Boron

The death of Lovejoy City Council member Barbara Spruill in July has sent reverberations of contention through the small town over a business owner's eligibility to run for her open seat.

Ellis N. Conkle applied for candidacy last week along with Wendy Andzeski, and Angela Cannon during a three-day qualifying period that concluded Friday.

But Conkle's application came under scrutiny after the city's mayor said he had doubts about whether his legal residence is within the city limits.

Mayor Joe Murphy would not say whether Conkle met residential requirements to run, but did say he foresees his application being a source of protest.

"There has been some concern that Mr. Conkle is not qualified but until it's really checked I can't confirm anything," he said. "There is probably going to be some challenges on his qualification."

Conkle contends that he lives in Lovejoy at a condominium on his business' property. His application for candidacy lists his current address as 2457 Steele Road in Lovejoy, which is the same listing for his business Tub Grinding.

Voter lists provided by the Board of Elections and Registration confirm Conkle's Lovejoy address.

However, his voter registration address conflicts with the location for his Homestead Exemption, which legally defines one's address.

Conkle's Homestead Exemption is filed in Henry County property tax office under the address 133 Stanfield Court in Hampton, Ga.

Legally, one's voter registration address should correlate with their Homestead Exemption, said Patricia Hussey, the Clayton County tax commissioner.

Conkle said he believes the push to disqualify him stems from his vocal opposition to the administration of city hall.

"I'm a longtime business man in this county and I just hate to see it run into the ground," he said.

Problems with the daily operations of city hall and a dramatic increase in the cost of business licenses in Lovejoy are what Conkle said pushed him to run.

"City Hall should be run like a business not some little family clique," he said. "If they refuse to let me run, then I will file a lawsuit."

Wendy Andzeski, who applied to run Thursday, declined to comment on Conkle's residential discrepancy.

"I don't really know him," she said.

Andzeski currently works at the business licensing technician for Clayton County and said she entered the race because she wants to be more involved in the community.

"I live in the community and I like to do what's best for the community," she said.

The third applicant for the city council seat, Angela Cannon, is a an office manager and dental assistant, but could not be reached for comment.