Only on 12: Mason files formal residency complaint against Brown

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August 14, 2006

The battle for the Augusta District 4 commission seat is heating up again.

Today, candidate Alvin Mason filed a formal residency complaint against one of his opponents that could affect the race in November.

Alvin Mason is not giving up this fight.

He was not successful in getting interim commissioner Keith Brown to step down on his own, so now that Brown has officially qualified to run for the seat in November, he's hoping the Board of Elections will take action.

It's a story you'll see Only on 12.

"We had no choice but to go down this track and ensure the integrity in this process," Mason said Monday afternoon as he filed a formal residency complaint with the Board of Elections.

It's the first official challenge against his opponent, interim commissioner Keith Brown.

"In this particular case, Mr. Mason as an elector and a candidate, he can issue a challenge against another candidate, which is what he has done," said Travis Doss, assistant director of elections.

"The law is very clear, and I do have nine instances that would disqualify him under the Georgia Code of the Georgia General assembly," Mason said.

This marks the latest round of the residency rumble, which started weeks ago with Mason holding a news conference then going before the commission asking Brown to step down. Mason claims Brown has not lived in Georgia long enough to serve as commissioner.

"It's just not a message that we want to send to anyone, it's okay to live in one state and vote in another," Mason said. "What is that saying to our youth, to our voters?"

But Brown never stepped down. Instead, he fought back with what he says are documents that show he has lived in Georgia for three years.

"I am the commissioner for District 4," he said. "I'm serving legally, and I'm qualified to serve."

But now the question of legal residency will no longer lie between these two men; rather, it will be decided after a hearing.

"Mr. Brown and Mr. Mason will both be notified of that hearing date, and Mr. Mason will then present his evidence of why he feels Mr. Brown is not qualified to hold or run for office," Doss explained.

The Board of Elections will make a decision based on that evidence.

This hearing will be set up just like a court hearing, meaning the burden of proof lies with Mr. Mason. The board won't do any investigating of its own.

No date has been set for the hearing, but the board would like to finalize the issue in the next two weeks, before they send the ballots to the printers.