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Judge upholds Riverdale election results

By Michael Davis

mdavis@news-daily.com

A Spalding County judge, on Friday, upheld the results of the Nov. 3 Riverdale elections, ruling against a challenge filed by Riverdale City Councilman Rick Scoggins and former City Council candidate Veverly Brooks, according to attorneys involved in the case.

Scoggins and Brooks, who lost in separate races, challenged the ballot count last month, arguing in their petition that the election was "illegal and fraudulently conducted."

Scoggins was seeking to beat back a challenge from Cynthia Stamps-Jones to win a third term as the Ward 1 councilperson.

Brooks was seeking to unseat incumbent Wanda Wallace in the Ward 3 race. Another candidate, Stan Byars, was also challenging Wallace in the race.

A Nov. 6 certification of the votes revealed that 60 ballots were left uncounted on election night, which, when added, made the final totals: Stamps-Jones, 345; Scoggins, 233; Wallace, 332; Brooks, 210, and Byars, 39. The certification revealed one write-in vote for Thomas Houston.

Riverdale City Attorney Deana Johnson said Spalding County Superior Court Judge Tommy Hankinson, who was asked to hear the election challenge, granted the city's motion for a directed verdict, essentially agreeing that Scoggins and Brooks failed to prove their claims.

She said the judge had not ruled on the city's request to recoup $15,000 in legal fees and costs associated with the challenge.

"We've maintained all along that the election was a fair and legal election," said Riverdale City Manager Iris Jessie. "We were confident there was no fraud and there were no irregularities."

Michael King, a Clayton County school board member and the attorney representing Scoggins and Brooks, said he disagreed with the judge's ruling, and that missing printouts from voting machines, which would show a zero vote total on the machines before balloting began, call into question the accuracy of the results.

He said he plans to file a notice of appeal with the state Supreme Court next week.

Jessie said Stamps-Jones and Wallace were sworn into office last month and would take their seats in January.