Mason and Brown meet, agree to disagree

By: Jonathan Martin
By: Jonathan Martin

They've been going at each other for a couple of weeks now, but haven't met face to face...until today.

District 4 commission candidate Alvin Mason is still asking Keith Brown to prove his past residency or step down as interim commissioner for District 4.

Mason now says that since he hasn't been able to get that proof, he's hoping a judge will.

It's a residency rumble now set to be duked out in court.

"I would ask Mr. Brown to apologize to the district, to my wife and myself for questioning our integrity in this process," Mason said.

He is now filing suit against interim commissioner Keith Brown, asking a judge to make him step down.

He says he gave Brown a chance to prove he's lived in Georgia for the two years required by law.

"But he chose not to do that," Mason says, "so he forced my hand to go ahead and do this action against him."

Though the two have spoken separately about the issue, it was only with News 12 that they agreed to meet face to face.

"There was some denial in the information, now there's--"

"Denial by who?

"You don't know if you voted or not."

Both men say they feel they've been personally attacked by the other. We asked Brown if he would give Mason the apology he asked for.

"There will be no apology issued by me to him for that," Brown said.

"This wasn't a witch-hunt," said Mason. "I did not bring false information against Mr. Brown, nor would I ever do that."

Brown admits he lived in South Carolina and voted there in November 2004, but says he's qualified because he also owned property in Georgia. He says he's waiting on city officials to tell him otherwise.

"Until I hear from them or my attorney, I will continue to do what I do, which is represent the constituents of District 4."

We asked Director of Elections Lynn Bailey what constitutes residency when it comes to qualifying.

"The law says your residency is where your habitat is, where you live, where you reside, where you are at a place, and your intent is to stay at that place," Bailey said.

Bailey's office is not involved yet because no formal complaint has been filed.

Bailey says the word "intent" can become tricky. She says it could be argued that in this case Mr. Brown never intended to stay in South Carolina.

And there's another part of the law that talks about voting in another state, and what that means for your residency. Georgia law says if you vote in another state, you forfeit your right as a citizen in Georgia.

It seems the issue really will have to be settled in court. Mason and Brown have agreed to disagree now, and let a judge decide later.

Mason is on the agenda to speak to Augusta commissioners at their next meeting.


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