CONYERS — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has turned the case involving misleading candidate qualification information provided by former Newton County resident and disqualified mayoral candidate Olivia Ware to the Secretary of State’s Office.
City Manager Tony Lucas said his office had been contacted late Wednesday afternoon by the GBI with the update.
“The GBI had reviewed the evidence we submitted, and in consultation with the Secretary of State’s office, they have passed that on to them,” Lucas advised the Conyers City Council at its meeting Wednesday night. “The Secretary of State’s Office will take it up and conduct its own independent investigation.”
Earlier in the month, the city clerk and city attorney turned over to the GBI information pertaining to Ware’s candidate qualification information and subsequent disqualification from the Nov. 5 election.
“The city has decided so as not to have any appearance that the Conyers Police Department is showing any level of bias that we will consult with the GBI and take them all the information we have,” Lucas said at the time.
Ware was disqualified from the mayoral election at the end of September after it was determined through an administrative hearing that she did not reside in the city of Conyers as she claimed in her Notice of Candidacy and Affidavit.
It turned out that Ware had lived in Rockdale County for less than one month and changed her drivers license to an address in the city limits on Aug. 30 — the day she qualified to run for mayor — contrary to her Notice of Candidacy and Affidavit, in which she stated she had lived in Rockdale County for two years and in Conyers for one year.
Prior to changing her drivers license to a Rockdale County address on Aug. 16, Ware had lived in Newton County for several years, where she claimed homestead exemption and voted in the 2012 General Election.
Just about the time she was found ineligible to run for mayor, Ware filed a lawsuit against the city of Conyers claiming she did not receive proper notice of the Sept. 20 administrative hearing.
In its answer to the lawsuit, the city defended the many steps it took to contact Ware, including attempting to hand-deliver the notice of the hearing at the time and place Ware herself requested.
The city had also filed a counterclaim against Ware requesting that she be made to reimburse Conyers for attorneys fees and costs associated with her candidacy and ensuing lawsuit.
On Sept. 30, Ware dismissed her lawsuit and withdrew her candidacy. She apologized for any inconvenience her actions caused the city.
Because the ballots were printed prior to Ware’s disqualification from the election, her name appears on the ballots. However, signs are posted at polling places advising voters that Ware has been disqualified and any votes for her will not be counted.
The city has reported that it spent nearly $10,000 to verify and challenge Ware’s candidacy and later to defend itself against the lawsuit.