Rowell Challenges Opponent’s Residency in City Council Race

Early voting for city council races in Districts 1, 3, 5 and 7 began this week ahead of Election Day on November 5. Two candidates are clashing over the qualifying criteria.

Councilwoman Catherine Foster Rowell, the incumbent in District 1, submitted a challenge packet claiming that her opponent, Mathis Colquitt, does not live in the district, or in the city of South Fulton. After a review of the documentation submitted and testimony from both Rowell and Mathis, South Fulton’s city clerk, who also serves as the Superintendent of Elections, has ruled in Colquitt’s favor.

The city of South Fulton’s charter requires that candidates for city council reside in the municipality for 12 months preceding the election, and in their respective district for six months prior to the qualifying period.

Councilwoman Rowell presented documentation from the Fulton County Board of Elections Voter Registration System showing that when Colquitt voted in the statewide general runoff election in December 2018, he used an Atlanta address. Additionally, records showed that his voter registration card was not updated to reflect a South Fulton address until April 2019.

Colquitt countered with paystubs and a driver’s license expiring in 2017 which showed a city of South Fulton address. Additionally, he presented a lease for a room in a home in the city of South Fulton’s District 1 from August 2018 through February 2019, and a current lease for an apartment in South Fulton which began in March of this year.

After a review of the case, the superintendent ruled that the presentation of the two residential leases satisfied the requirement for legal residency, and that Colquitt will remain on the ballot.

Both candidates, along with those running in Districts 5 and 7, have been invited to appear at a forum tonight at Friendship Community Church (4141 Old Fairburn Road). The event begins at 6:30 p.m.