By Kathy Jefcoats
FOREST PARK — The March 19 special election to replace retired Mayor Corine Deyton won’t include the Ward 2 seat left vacant by Karen-Brandee Williams’ ouster from the Forest Park City Council, said officials.
City Attorney Joe Harris told the council and Mayor Pro Tem Linda Lord Tuesday there isn’t enough time to add the seat to the March ballot. Clayton County Superior Court Chief Judge Deborah Benefield last week upheld the council’s decision to remove Williams from her seat in July 2011. However, Williams has 30 days to appeal the decision.
Georgia law details deadlines that must be met leading up to an election and her right to appeal interferes with those deadlines, said Harris.
“The timing is not going to work,” he said. “We would be right up against it with the deadlines.”
If Williams appeals, the election process for her seat halts until the case winds through the appellate court. If she doesn’t, the council can proceed filling that seat unimpeded.
Ward 1 Councilwoman Sparkle Adams is expected to resign her seat by Feb. 1 to run for mayor so that spot will also be on the March ballot.
Harris said the next available time is June. Once the council sets a special election date, members can appoint a successor to hold the office until the election. The Ward 2 term expires in December.
The last day to call the March 19 election is during the Feb. 4 meeting, at which time officials will know if there are one or two seats to fill in March. Qualifying for the election will be held from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., with a lunch break every day from 12 p.m.-1 p.m., starting Monday, Feb. 11, and continuing each day until Friday, Feb. 15.
The qualifying fee for mayor is $943. The fee for a Council seat, if needed, is $612.
The last day to register to vote in this election is Feb. 19, because Feb. 18 is a holiday.