Gibson takes challenge of Tillman candidacy to Bibb County court

hgoodridge@macon.comAugust 29, 2013 

After Bibb County election officials shot down a challenge to Al Tillman’s candidacy for the Macon-Bibb County Commission last week, Macon City Councilman Henry Gibson vowed to appeal.

He made good on that promise Thursday, filing for an injunction in Bibb County Superior Court.

Gibson filed a complaint earlier this month claiming that Tillman isn’t a legal resident of District 9, the seat Tillman is vying for against Council President James Timley.

Gibson, who’s supporting Timley, contends that since Tillman filed for a homestead tax exemption on property in District 8, that’s the district Tillman legally lives in, thus nullifying his candidacy for District 9.

The Bibb County Board of Elections sided with Tillman last week in a 4-0 vote.

Gibson called the hearing “a joke.”

Board of elections members said that 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 supplied the board with a car registration, power bills, bank statements and a lease agreement showing that he lived at an apartment complex in District 9.

A portion of Gibson’s letter, dated Aug. 27, read: “I hearby appeal the decision of the Board of Elections on my challenge of determining residence and qualification of candidate Al Tillman for the Macon-Bibb Commission.” He gave a copy of the letter to the elections board and delivered a copy to the court Thursday afternoon.

Tillman said he didn’t think Gibson would prevail.

“They don’t have a chance and they know they don’t have a chance,” Tillman said. “They’re still trying to disqualify me from running. ... The Justice Department already said you can move in a district a day before qualifying.

“They have not been this energized to fight crime, poverty as they are fighting against me,” Tillman added.

Gibson said the law stating that a resident need only live in a district for a day was added by Republicans so they can unseat candidates in the upcoming election.

“That law was done by (state Rep.) Allen Peake for Al Tillman,” Gibson said. “The law previously said homestead exemption is where your residence is.

“A majority of people in District 9 don’t like what’s going on,” he added. “I want my day in court before voters go to the polls.”

As for voters who have already hit the polls, Gibson said, “that’s the (election) board’s problem. A judge can throw that out.”

To contact writer Harold Goodridge, call 744-4382.

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