Both Williams and Pike can officially run for Ward 3 - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Both Williams and Pike can officially run for Ward 3

By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The election season has barely started and there's already controversy in an Albany City Commission race. The qualifications for both Ward 3 candidates were challenged.

Arthur Williams was challenged for questions about tax problems and Christopher Pike for allegations he didn't qualify on time. Both had hearings with the Board of Elections Monday afternoon.

"I, Arthur K. Williams, am qualified to run for Albany city commission Ward 3," told the board.

Former Commissioner Arthur Williams says he's qualified to run again for Albany city commission but not everyone is convinced.  "Is he or is he not qualified? That's a yes or a no," said Lon McNeil.

Lon McNeil wondered if that answer was no. McNeil did research at the courthouse and found several tax liens going back years against Williams. Because of those liens, he contested Williams' qualifications at the Dougherty County Elections Office.

"What I wanted to do was get truth out there," said McNeil.

So what is the truth? "I will not discuss my personal tax information in public," said Williams to the board.

Williams did tell the board his accountant and tax lawyer are working on the issues. "I'm not the holder of any funds and I have not stolen any money and I'm not a felon and three court cases determined that," said Williams.

It was up to the Board of Registration and Elections to determine if the tax matters would affect Williams running. State law says candidates who owe taxes can't run for office.  But city and county attorneys told the board there are exceptions.

"And here's the key language," said Albany City Attorney Nathan Davis, "If such person has been finally adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction of these taxes. That's the issue."

"None of these liens for taxes have been adjudicated," said Williams.

Williams says his liens have not been adjudicated by a court or judge. Because the mere filing of the liens don't disqualify candidates, the board voted unanimously to allow Williams to run. "The board voting the way they did solidified that there is some justice," said Williams.

Under contest himself, Williams contested his opponent Christopher Pike's ability to run. "I felt compelled to challenge," said Williams.

Williams and two witnesses told the board they felt Pike did not qualify before the noon deadline September 4th. Election office employees and another witness said that was not true. The board voted 4 to 1 to allow Pike to run.

"I've never questioned my qualifications to run and as I've said before, it's political grand-standing," said Pike. Both men can now officially start campaigning. It's a campaign McNeil says had to start off with one core component.

"It's about Albany trying to get a handle on it's future and there's only one way we can do that--truth," said McNeil.

The final truth comes from voters in November.

McNeil says he does not plan to appeal the board's decision. Williams says he plans to take action in the future to implement what he calls better protocol at the elections office.

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