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Lovejoy close to a decision on Conkle

By Justin Boron

The uncertainty over Lovejoy City Council applicant Ellis Conkle's eligibility to run could be cleared up as early as Friday, when the election superintendent said he would announce his decision.

Superintendent Eugene Lawson said he had made up his mind after a Wednesday hearing that produced three tape-recorded statements taken at City Council meetings, in which Conkle admitted he did not live in Lovejoy.

"I pretty much have my decision," he said. "I need to re-examine the documents."

Despite expressing near certainty, Lawson said he would take until Friday to review the evidence and Georgia election laws before he made his decision public.

Charles Driebe, the attorney for the City Council candidate that protested Conkle's qualification, played tapes from January 27 and February 10 council meetings where Conkle spoke out against increase in the cost of business licenses.

"I live in Henry County," Conkle said on the tape.

The statements intended to discredit Conkle's assertion that his intended domicile has been in Lovejoy for the year long residential requirement to run, Driebe said.

The evidence's weight became clear after Lawson instructed Conkle that he would have to overcome these statements in order to establish a Lovejoy domicile.

During the two hours of arguments, Lawson often played the role of Conkle's attorney, Lee Sexton who could not be present because of scheduling constraints.

At one point, Lawson even objected on Conkle's behalf after Driebe attempted to introduce hearsay evidence.

Angela Cannon, who filed the protest against Conkle, said she thought he performed poorly at the hearing.

"He kept bringing up old issues about Council member Bobby Cartwright," she said. "I don't think he did that well."

Cartwright entered office with a homestead exemption in Emmanuel County.

Conkle, who recently retracted his homestead exemption from Henry County, said Cartwright's case

When Conkle attempted to admit it as evidence, Lawson ruled it irrelevant.

Cannon's aversion to Conkle as a candidate stems from doubts over his residency.

But she said that citizens do not need representation from a businessman like him.

"He's a big money man," she said. "We need more average Joes."

Even as the evidence piled up against him, Conkle remained resilient.

"I'm definitely going to appeal if Lawson rules against me," he said.