Conyers election superintendent finds Ware not qualified to run for mayor

CONYERS — Conyers Election Superintendent Patricia Smith has found that Olivia Holmes Ware is not legally qualified to run for the office of mayor in the Nov. 5 election.

According to the decision that was sent via certified and regular U.S. mail Wednesday afternoon, Ware’s name will be “stricken from the ballots and/or a prominent notice shall be placed at each affected polling place advising voters of your disqualification. All votes cast for you shall be void and shall not be counted.”

Smith, who also serves as city clerk, presided over a hearing on Sept. 20 to determine whether Ware is legally qualified to run for mayor based on discrepancies in Ware’s voter registration record and her residency within the city limits.

Smith outlined these discrepancies, which were testified to by a number of witnesses, including elections supervisors for both Rockdale and Newton counties.

Ware swore in the Notice of Candidacy and Affidavit when she qualified on Aug. 30 to run for mayor that she had lived in Rockdale County for two years and the city of Conyers for one.

Smith found, however, that Ware had changed her address on her drivers license and voter registration from Newton County to an address in unincorporated Rockdale County on Aug. 16 and then changed her drivers license again to an address within the city limits on Aug. 30.

Prior to Smith’s decision Wednesday, Ware filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday morning against the city claiming she was not given proper notice of the hearing.

Smith addressed that, too.

“Despite your absence at the hearing, I hereby find that you received proper, sufficient and reasonable notice of the hearing,” Smith stated.

Smith described how on Sept. 17, notice of the hearing was mailed to Ware via both certified and regular U.S. mail to the three addresses she had claimed — one in Newton County and two in Rockdale County.

“Further, I spoke with you by telephone on Sept. 17, 2013, and you instructed me to have a copy of the notice of hearing hand-delivered to a specific address to a person who would act as your representative and would receive the document,” Smith wrote.

The address, at 2013 Gees Mill Road, Suite 102, was the same address that Conyers Police Department Capt. Jack Dunn testified during Friday’s hearing where he attempted to hand-deliver the notice without success.

Smith also stated that Assistant City Attorney Carrie Bootcheck testified that she left a detailed message on Sept. 18 giving the date, time and purpose of Friday’s hearing at the phone number Ware listed on her Notice of Candidacy and where Bootcheck had reached her a week earlier.

Ware has 10 days to appeal Smith’s decision to Rockdale County Superior Court.