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Lovejoy candidate wants runoff halted

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

The results of the Nov. 6 election for the Post 1 council seat in Lovejoy, and a subsequent Nov. 15 recount, have been challenged by one candidate, who claims egregious errors took place during the election.

Last week, Latoshia Gray -- who lost in the recount by one vote -- filed a petition to Clayton County Superior Court to contest the election. In the petition, filed on Wednesday, Gray claims several individuals not registered to vote in the city -- some of them city officials -- were allowed to vote, and at least 50 people were turned away from the polls without receiving provisional ballots.

Today, in Clayton County Superior Court, Harlan Miller, the attorney representing Gray, will ask for an injunction to stop Tuesday's scheduled runoff election.

Gray said that the results of the Nov. 15 recount were never certified, and thus, she waited until last week to file the petition."We did an official recount on the fifteenth of November, and ever since then, we've waited for those results to be certified," said Gray. "At this point, it's still not certified, so we went and filed anyway."

The petition states that Lovejoy Mayor Joseph Murphy, his wife, Cheryl Murphy, his daughter, Cheryl Singletary, and his son-in-law, Ron Singletary, all registered to vote using a false address. Miller, Gray's attorney, said Murphy sold the property at 2126 Talmadge Road in Lovejoy in January, and the address he gave is a vacant lot.

"We know that wherever he said he lives, he doesn't live," said Miller. "It's up to him to prove where he lives. Giving a false address in an election is a felony in this state."

The petition also states that Lovejoy Councilwoman Wendy Andzeski, and her husband, Paul, registered their address as 937 Cambridge Parkway in Hampton, but did not actually live there.

Keith Martin, the attorney representing the city, said he has not seen the official complaint filed by Miller, but defended Murphy and Andzeski. Martin said Andzeski recently moved to another address in the Lovejoy city limits, and Murphy currently lives in an area of Lovejoy that does not have an official street address.

"Where the mayor lives does not have a street number assigned to it," said Martin. "He's living in an area that has just been subdivided into tracks. The roads have not been designated, so the postal service hasn't assigned an address to it.

"I think it's the best address he had," said Martin of the property at 2126 Talmadge Road. "[Murphy] couldn't write down [his current] address without a street number."

Miller said during elections, people whose addresses can't be verified by election officials must, by law, be given a provisional ballot until their address can be verified.

"Those discrepancies could have affected the outcome of the election, due to the fact that [Tommy Green and Bob Lynch] won by one vote," said Miller.

Green, who received 103 votes in the Nov. 6 election, received 104 votes in an unofficial recount later that evening. The official Nov. 15 recount yielded the same results as the unofficial Nov. 6 recount, tying Green with Lynch and knocking Gray out of the running.

Green said that as of Friday, he had not been served with any court papers, but said the way the election was handled was "troubling."

"Based on some of the information that was found ... the [election] superintendent didn't follow some of the rules," said Green. "When I asked about the provisional ballots, the election attendant said that they didn't ask for one. To expect [voters] to be so versed in campaign literature is ludicrous."

Green believes a recount is necessary, and said he is prepared if the results are not in his favor."I just want it to be done the right way," said Green. "It's a slap in the face for those who have tried to do the right thing, and to have their effort not mean anything."

Lynch could not be reached for comment.