Controversy is surrounding the upcoming race for District 3’s seat on the Elbert County Board of Education.
At the end of candidate qualifying on March 7th at noon, only one candidate had qualified for that race and that was incumbent PJO Phelps.
On Monday another candidate, Donald Wayne Ward, was added to the ballot due to what was considered a “clerical error”.
Mrs. Phelps says Ward’s candidacy is being challenged through two different means, one on the grounds of missing the qualifying deadline, and the other due to nepotism under O.C.G.A 20-2-51(4)(A).
“Which states plainly that the staff of a sibling can not serve on the board with another sitting member; Ben Baker’s sister is Polly Ward, who is married to Wayne”, said Phelps. “So if Wayne should win the election, he can’t serve, by the law.”
Speaking to WSGC radio yesterday evening, Mr. Ward says it’s ultimately going to come down to how the low is interpreted.
“As I said before, I have no people with direct blood lines. I have no brother or sibling, no parents, no children, and my wife is not in the school system”, explained Ward. “I guess what this is going to be about is how that law is read.”
Mrs. Phelps says she has nothing against opposition, but the law is the law.
“I would think he should drop out of the race, I am not opposed to opposition, but the way that it has been done is incorrect”, said Phelps. “I mean the law is the law and I can’t do anything about that.”
Coming up next week will be a hearing to determine whether or not Ward is indeed eligible to run in the upcoming election.
Ward says he isn’t sure what to expect from the hearing, but said at the same time he is looking forward to it.
“I don’t really know, because if I win I guess the other side could appeal, and I could do the same if I lose, so I am not sure how exactly this is going to play out”, said Ward. “My understanding is if either side wants to have an emergency hearing in Superior Court and let a Superior Court Judge make the decision, which is entirely possible. All the facts are going to be gathered before a decision is made, and I am kind of looking forward to it.”
That hearing is scheduled for Thursday, April 3rd in the Elbert County Commissioners Meeting Room located inside of the Elbert County Government Complex at 4:00pm to address the challenges to the candidacy of Mr. Ward.
Both candidates are running as republicans, and would square off during the upcoming May primary.