Conyers mayoral candidate questioned about eligibility to run

Hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. today

CONYERS — The legitimacy of a Conyers mayoral candidate is being challenged by elections officials and a hearing is scheduled today to determine whether or not Olivia Holmes Ware is eligible to run.

Ware qualified on Aug. 30 as a candidate for mayor, using 213 Peaks Landing in Conyers as her address. She stated in the Notice of Candidacy and Affidavit that she has been a legal resident of Rockdale County for two consecutive years and a legal resident of the city of Conyers for one year.

However, based on voter registration records and voting history, Ware listed residing at addresses in both unincorporated Rockdale County and in Newton County within the last year.

For instance, according to a voter registration form from the state Department of Driver Services, Ware registered to vote on Aug. 16 in Rockdale County, listing as her address a home on Coal Shovel Trail in Conyers. This address does not lie within the city limits of Conyers.

On Nov. 6, 2012, Ware, using the name Olivia Holmes, voted in the General Election in Newton County, listing an address on Mount Zion Road in Oxford. She presented her Georgia drivers license as proof of identification at that time. She also claimed a homestead exemption in 2012 at that address.

Furthermore, Ware appears to have voted in Newton County four times since 2008.

Rockdale County Elections Supervisor Cynthia Welch sent Conyers City Clerk Patricia Smith, who serves as election superintendent for the city, a letter on Sept. 6 notifying Smith that Ware is not a registered voter of the city of Conyers. In this letter, Welch outlined the discrepancies in Ware’s address and pointed out that Ware is participating in a pre-trial diversion program as a result of charges filed in January by the Conyers Police Department alleging theft by receiving and obstruction of officers. The name Olivia Holmes and the Coal Shovel Trail address are listed on the incident report and warrants.

As a consequence of the notice sent by Welch, Conyers City Attorney Michael Waldrop sent a certified letter to Ware on Sept. 9 at all three addresses.

“The weight of the evidence in this case clearly supports my finding that you have not been a resident of the city of Conyers for the last year as you swore that you have been in your Notice of Candidacy and Affidavit,” Waldrop wrote. “The rationale behind my conclusion is that if in fact you have been a resident of the city of Conyers for the last year and of Rockdale County for the last two years, you would not have been eligible to vote in Newton County in November 2012, nor would you have been eligible to receive homestead exemption benefits in Newton County for 2011 or 2012, nor would you have been eligible to apply for or to receive a drivers license at the Coal Shovel Trail address in August 2013.”

Waldrop requested that Ware withdraw her candidacy in writing by Sept. 12.

On Tuesday, Sept. 17, after Ware’s candidacy apparently was not withdrawn, Smith sent to Ware — at all three addresses — a certified letter notifying her that Smith will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. today to determine whether she is legally qualified to run for the office of mayor in the Nov. 5 election.

The hearing will be conducted in the Council Chambers at 1184 Scott St.

Attempts by the Citizen to reach Ware were unsuccessful by press time.

In addition to Ware, the other candidates who have qualified for the mayoral election are Conyers Mayor Randy Mills, seeking his fifth term; Michael Zanetti, a retired military officer; and Kathy Harvey, a local business owner who challenged Mills in 2009 for mayor and faced her own legal issues when she pleaded guilty in Newton County to a felony charge. She was granted First Offender status, which allowed her to continue to seek elective office.