Viewpoint: Do tax debts disqualify?

The constitutional amendment meant to keep people who owe taxes out of state government, has a major loophole that is letting those people run and hold office anyway.

You saw on our news that the Dougherty County board of elections is allowing Arthur K. Williams to run for the Ward 3 city commission seat, even though he owes about $100,000 in back taxes to the state and the Internal Revenue Service.

Why? Because there hasn't been a final decision by a court saying that he owes that money, even though there were dozens of liens placed against Williams that date back more than a decade.

Former State Senator Michael Meyer von Bremen said the intent of the legislation was simple.

"True intent was to prevent people who, without legitimate reason, have not paid their taxes from holding office, either running for office or being an office holder continuing to hold that office."

But the intent was skewed when senators added language to the legislation about final adjudication. The purpose of that language is to allow people who have liens placed against them to appeal that decision, but it wasn't supposed to allow people to go on year after year avoiding their responsibilities.

Doug Everett introduced the legislation in the house of representatives before it was passed on to the Senate.

"If you want to know the truth, when that law was passed, I was thinking of Mr. Williams at that time."

Because he doesn't believe people who are so irresponsible with their taxes should be in charge of taxpayers money.

"My intent was to either get the person to pay up on their taxes or get aon a payment plan to pay their taxes and if they did not do that then they would not be able to hold a public, or be appointed to a public office."

We urge state legislators to correct the language in the constitution and close the loophole that allows people who neglect their taxes to run for public office.

If Arthur K. Williams can't control his own finances, we certainly don't want him at the city commission table deciding how to spend $100 Million of our tax dollars.

Mr. Williams says he will not discuss his finances, or say if he is making any payments on his back taxes. Well then don't expect the taxpaying citizens to vote for you