House candidate takes stand against county - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

House candidate takes stand against county

September 6, 2002

Colquitt County- A huge delinquent garbage bill looms over a state house candidate.

Some voters, though, defend Darrel Ealum for not paying the pickup fees for a trailer park he owns. House seat 137 Republican candidate Darrel Ealum has hired former Attorney General Mike Bowers to handle the garbage issue.

Colquitt County has put a $10,000 lien on Ealum's mobile home parks because of unpaid garbage pickup fees. Ealum hired Bowers to look into several questions, including if Colquitt County's decision to fine him so close to an election is illegal.

Cathy Bell's grandmother is a long-time resident of Ealum Estates. She stops by often with her brothers to help keep up the yard. Cathy says her grandmother pays everything on time, including the $12.50 monthly charge for garbage pickup. "Everyone has to pay it, and for him to get fined that's kind of wrong. Everybody needs to pay the garbage pickup."

But not everybody is, and Ealum Estate's owner and candidate in the District 137 run-off, Darrel Ealum, is facing $10,664 in liens for past due garbage bills.

But he says he was not given a reasonable opportunity to pay. Ealum is seeking help from former Attorney General Mike Bowers.

In a statement, Ealum says "In recognition of the electoral contest currently happening and in recognition of the power of the press..." He wonders if "the timing of the action by Colquitt County is equivalent to illegal election tampering by governmental officials."

Fearing a potential lawsuit, Colquitt County officials are remaining quiet, but County Administrator Brian Marlowe says several property owners are facing the same problem as Darrel Ealum, and the County is working toward improving their notification process when renters fail to pay garbage fee.

Voters we spoke to in Colquitt County say they don't think this recent incident will hurt Ealum's chances of victory. "I think as long as he shows some effort to get them motivated to pay, I think he will be fine," said Larry Ferrel. "But I think it was his tenants responsibility to pay their bills."

But, the final answer won't be known until Tuesday.

Colquitt County Administrator Brian Marlowe says they are working to notify property owners right away if tenants don't pay garbage fees.

Under County ordinance, property owners are responsible if tenants don't pay.
posted at 5:15PM by dave.miller@walb.com