September 7, 2006
Where does Augusta mayoral candidate Ronnie Few live?
Two official challenges were filed today with the Board of Elections about that question.
We were the first to bring you news of these residency challenges on News 12 Midday, and now we hear from the two who've filed them...along with Ronnie Few himself, who says this is all a big misunderstanding.
Ronnie Few hopes be the next mayor of Augusta...but first, he may have to prove he's qualified to run.
Two voters filed complaints with the Board of Elections Thursday officially challenging his residency.
One of them is Augusta government watchdog Woody Merry.
"The days of people living in one county and filing an address in another one to be a candidate for an office are over," he told News 12. "If we find somebody's doing something wrong, we're going to go after them."
Melanie Roy, a voter and taxpayer, is also looking for answers.
"I've been waiting for somebody else to do it," she told News 12. "It's time for me take the action myself."
The former fire chief is under fire because last April he applied for a homestead exemption on a house in Columbia County. By signing the document, it means he swore he "actually occupied" the home.
But Few told us it was a mistake and says he lives in Augusta's Port Royal.
"I didn't quite worry about the fact that where I live, 'cause I knew where I live at, you can't fool people," Few told News 12. "People have seen me for three years going in and out of my place."
Here's what Georgia law says: "If a homestead exemption has been claimed, it shall be deemed the person's residence."
"I wasn't going down there to do anything with a homestead exemption, I was going down because I wanted to find out why they were showing that my taxes weren't paid," Few said.
So now it's up to the Board of Elections to decide if Few's mistake will cost him a chance at the city's top job.
Merry and Roy didn't originally know anyone else was filing a challenge. Now they tell News 12 they plan to work together in proving their case if this goes before the Board of Elections.
So where do we go from here?
The Board of Elections has a regular meeting on Monday. That's when they'll decide whether the challenges have merit.
If they decide they do, they will send the matter to a special hearing in front of the board, and that's where they would decide whether Ronnie Few's name can stay on the ballot.
Any registered voter can file a challenge, and more challenges could still be filed.