Manley to remain in Forest Park council race after Bagley challenges eligibility

Patricia Manley, who is running for Forest Park City Council in Ward 3, will remain on the ballot after Elections Supervisor Lois Wright issued a letter Tuesday. Incumbent Sandra Bagley had challenged Manley's candidacy based on Manley's eviction from her stated address. Bagley has 10 days to file a complaint in Superior Court.

FOREST PARK — Following a challenge by Ward 3 Councilwoman Sandra Bagley, Elections Supervisor Lois Wright is set to determine whether challenger Patricia Manley is qualified to run in the Nov. 5 election.

Bagley claims that Manley registered using an Evelyn Drive address from which Manley allegedly had been evicted July 17. Clayton County Magistrate Court records confirm the eviction, as well as several others since 2013.

Attempts to reach Manley for comment were unsuccessful by press time. A campaign flyer on her Facebook page notes, "I will address vacant homes, compliance, trash and crime." A video on Manley's Facebook page shows Manley campaigning while offering residents free grass-cutting services. 

A hearing was scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12. After some question as to whether or not the hearing would be open, members of the public were allowed to attend. They, the News, and city officials, including Mayor Angelyne Butler, waited in council chambers for half an hour.

About 1:30 p.m., City Attorney Mike Williams announced the meeting had been postponed until 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13.

"I'm furious," said Bagley.

Georgia state election law differs from county and municipal elections law. Forest Park's city code does not specify how candidate challenges should be heard, whether the hearing should be open or closed, and who should be party to the decision.

However, state law provides that "If, after conducting a hearing, the registrars find that the elector is not qualified to remain on the list of electors, the registrars shall remove the name of such elector from the list of electors."

Wright then would notify Manley "in writing either by first-class mail addressed to the mailing address shown on the person's voter registration records or in the manner provided in subsection (c) of this Code section for other notices."

Also under state law, Manley would have the right to appeal to Clayton County Superior Court "by filing a petition with the clerk of the superior court within ten days after the date of the decision of the registrars. A copy of such petition shall be served upon the registrars. Unless and until the decision of the registrars is reversed by the court, the decision of the registrars shall stand."

In 2015, Manley ran against Morrow Councilman Larry Ferguson. Similar questions came up then about Manley's eligibility to run based on residency and evictions. Ferguson beat Manley 358 to 230.

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