Augusta mayoral candidate Few faces residency questions

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September 1, 2006

A mayoral candidate comes under fire after questions over his residency. Where does Ronnie Few call home?

The former Augusta fire chief recently filled out property tax forms for a home in Columbia County.

The problem?

He's running for mayor of Augusta.

And his eligibility rides on him having lived in Richmond County for at least one year.

News 12 is On Your Side with more on the confusion.

Before Ronnie Few signed on to run for Augusta's mayor, paperwork indicates he signed something else.

In a News 12 investigation, we learned that on April 11, 2006, Few applied for a homestead exemption in Columbia County.

"I don't think that you can live in Columbia County and be an elected official in the neighboring county," Columbia County tax commissioner Kay Allen told News 12.

It's a move Few now calls a mistake.

Few signed his homestead exemption for 204 Mineral Court, which means he swore he resided in and occupied this home.

But in his notice of candidacy for mayor, Few writes his current address as One 7th Street, in Suite 604 at Augusta's Port Royal.

Director of elections Lynn Bailey told News 12, "You have to be a resident of the state of Georgia for two years and you have to be - in the case of the mayor - a resident of Richmond County for one year. And those time periods are calculated from the day of the election."

So which address is accurate?

According to state law, if Few knowingly filed a fraudulent claim of homestead exemption, he could be slapped with a misdemeanor.

Allen says applying by accident is unlikely: "We said, 'This is your full-time residence, you live there, you own the home January 1st and you're in here to make an application."

We did speak with Mr. Few by phone. He tells us he did not mean to file the Columbia County homestead exemption. He says he went into the office after his learning his mortgage company had not paid his taxes correctly.

Any Richmond County resident can challenge Few's eligibility to run for mayor.