State law allowed anyone who wanted to be a legitimate write-in candidate for office in the November municipal election to qualify by Sept. 6.
Earlier in the week, Councilwoman Betty Price apparently was considering taking that step. And a legal ad notifying the Fulton Elections Board of Price’s candidacy was being readied for this week’s paper.
By Monday, however, the ad was cancelled and Price said she opted to keep her council seat rather than make a write-in candidacy official.
Claire Bartlett, the Roswell resident who ordered then pulled the legal ad, explained the reason.
“Late Friday we received legal clarification on write-in candidacy and qualifying,” Bartlett said in an email. “The end result is that candidacy, if accepted, would ultimately cause the write-in candidate to vacate her existing council seat, which was not desirable for many reasons, but also because it could potentially cost taxpayers the expense of a special election.”
Bartlett said she had been pursuing the issue as an interested resident along with some other Roswellians.
Price said she couldn’t get a definitive answer on whether she would be required to vacate her council seat if she was a certified write-in candidate.
“In the short period of time we had to decide, no official ruling clarified the gray area between Georgia law and the city's charter about resigning at the same time as ‘qualifying,’” she said in an email. “No one has yet sharply defined the legal difference between an ‘eligible’ candidate and a ‘qualified’ candidate.”
She opted to retain her seat rather than run the risk of filing. “I felt if they went through with filing papers for me to be a write-in, there would be a ‘reaction’ that some might try to force me out of office during the campaign, and I didn't want my belongings boxed up and my office lock changed.”
Since she was in the middle of a four year city council term, Price said, “I thought it was more important to serve out my term. There is much uncompleted work, and I want to be able to continue to work for the citizens of the City of Roswell for the remainder of my term.”
Price’s name can still be written in by voters in November, but she said without being registered as a write-in, it probably would not be counted.
And that’s a shame, Bartlett said. “I am disappointed Betty won't be an official write-in candidate. However, it is understandable given the last minute nature of the consideration and the repercussions.
“My perspective on this was not as a personal affront against the mayor. Rather, it is a shame that a major Georgia city the size of Roswell does not encourage and produce more candidates for office from a pool of engaged citizens.
“When I saw that the mayor was not being challenged, some of us thought it might be a good idea to offer the citizens of Roswell a good, viable choice.”