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Fulton County has bad week
by Noreen Lewis Cochran
September 21, 2012 06:20 PM | 3881 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Fulton County business will carry on even as the jurisdiction took a double hit of bad publicity this week when its elections chief and one of its assessors landed in the spotlight.

Registration and Elections Director Samuel Westmoreland was arrested on “charges related to revocation of probation for earlier charges of driving under the influence,” according to statements released by the county board of commissioners and board of registration and elections.

“This is a personnel matter and Mr. Westmoreland is under the supervision of the board of registration and elections,” the commissioners’ statement read. “As a result, the board of commissioners has been in contact with the board of registration and elections to be apprised of what measures will be taken to address this issue and ensure that the elections process is not compromised or unduly disrupted.”

The registration and elections board will hold a special called meeting Monday “to determine the next course of action to ensure stability and continuity of leadership,” it said.

“The department of registration and elections has two bureau chiefs, one serving registration — Ms. Sharon Mitchell — and another serving elections — Mr. Dwight Brower,” its statement read. “Ms. Sharon Mitchell, the chief of registration, is providing leadership to the entire team and the business of the department will continue to move forward.”

Westmoreland, a civil-rights attorney, joined the department eight years ago.

He was appointed interim director in July 2011 and officially given the position in March.

Alpharetta Police Officer George Gordon said Westmoreland will be released Monday.

The Georgia Real Estate Appraisers Board on Monday revoked the appraiser’s license of Donald Elliott Johnson, who has his own appraisal business in south Fulton and sits on the county board of assessors.

In a final order issued Tuesday, the state board said Johnson’s “conduct was severe enough to warrant the revocation of his state-certified residential real property appraiser classification.”

The board enforces appraisal standards and establishes qualifications for appraisers within guidelines set by state and federal law, according to its website.

Charles B. Bramlett, Sandra McAlister Winter, William R. Coleman Jr. and Marilyn R. Watts voted on the matter Monday during a meeting in downtown Atlanta. Board member D. Scott Murphy recused himself.

Johnson was not present due to a medical emergency, he said Friday, but he will begin the appeal process next week.

“Once I get to go to Superior Court, the end result will be different,” he said. “A lot of things were said, but the situation is not over yet.”

Johnson said charges of overvaluing properties were unfounded.

“They accused me of everything,” he said. “The administrative judge, [Ana] Kennedy, said there’s no evidence to that fact.”

Johnson said he will continue to serve on the five-member county board, which determines the market value of property for taxation purposes.

“One has nothing to do with the other,” Johnson said. “They’re completely separate deals.”

Meanwhile, although he said pending an appeal he is still able to practice, his company has suffered.

“The whole smear campaign has affected my business,” Johnson said.

What’s next?

Sept. 24 at noon, county board of registration and elections special meeting

 North Fulton Service Center, 7741 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs

Oct. 4 at 12:30 p.m., county board of assessors’ regular meeting

 Fulton County Government Center, 141 Pryor St., downtown Atlanta

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