Board keeps Tillman as Macon-Bibb candidate; Gibson plans to appeal

mstucka@macon.comAugust 20, 2013 

Al Tillman remains a candidate for Macon-Bibb County Commission after a 4-0 vote by the board of elections Tuesday.

However, Macon City Councilman Henry Gibson said he likely will appeal the loss of his challenge to Tillman’s residency.

“It’s not over yet. I probably will file an injunction in Bibb County Superior Court,” Gibson told reporters after Tuesday’s hearing, which ran about an hour and a half. Gibson is not a candidate in the district, where Councilman James Timley is also running.

Gibson said Tillman remains a resident of District 8 -- where he’s listed as co-owner of a house with his wife -- rather than at a District 9 apartment Tillman rented in June. Tillman renewed a homestead exemption at the house in January.

Tillman says he’s sleeping, eating and cooking at the apartment, where he keeps a full closet and a full refrigerator.

“I didn’t get this size just snacking,” he quipped.

Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections members said the law, including a 2008 Georgia Supreme Court case, made it clear that the homestead exemption alone could not determine Tillman’s place of residency. Tillman also offered car registration, power bills, bank statements and a lease agreement showing he lived at the District 9 apartment.

Gibson discussed the homestead exemption at length, but offered no other evidence against Tillman’s residency. He said Tillman was trying to twist the law.

“When the law says that the line is drawn here, they didn’t give no variance. Where the line is drawn, that’s it,” he said.

The board’s Rinda Wilson, Ronnie Miley, Barbara Clowers and Herbert Spangler all voted to declare that Tillman was a qualified candidate for District 9. Steve Allen abstained from the vote, saying he had done some business with Tillman in the past and didn’t want that to be seen as coloring his vote.

Tillman’s attorney, Randall Harrison, said Gibson would have 10 days to appeal to Bibb County Superior Court.

After the hearing, Tillman told reporters that “it’s time to bring civility and integrity back into our community, and unify our community, and that’s what this is about. And today the board of elections spoke loud and clear that this was only a distraction as we move forward.”

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.


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