The Newnan Times-Herald

Local

Sells' challenger seeking documents


  • By Sarah Fay Campbell
  • |
  • Jan. 11, 2019 - 10:08 AM

The former candidate challenging Grantville Councilman Jim Sells’ residency is seeking documents that apparently don’t exist.

At a 2011 hearing before the Coweta Board of Registrars, the board ruled that Sells was a legal resident of Grantville and therefore eligible to be the city’s mayor.

But it appears that there never were any minutes.

Dee Berry, who ran for the city council seat that Sells won in the November 2018 general election, appeared before the Coweta County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night to ask for the minutes from that hearing.

Sells served one term as mayor, and ran for council last year. He beat incumbent Willie Kee by one vote. Berry came in third in the four-way race.

Berry has filed a complaint with the Coweta Board of Elections and Registration alleging that Sells is not a legal resident of Grantville. The board will hold a hearing on the issue Thursday, Jan. 17, at 10 a.m. The board will hold its regular January meeting at 11 a.m.

Under state records retention policy, documents relating to residency challenges are only kept for two years, said Coweta Clerk Shannon Zerangue.

Berry said that meeting minutes are considered permanent records.

County Attorney Jerry Ann Conner said that she isn’t familiar with the issue, but wasn’t sure that there would even be minutes from a board hearing.

Coweta Elections Director Jane Scoggins said Thursday that while the board of elections and registration keeps minutes from its board meetings, hearings are separate from board meetings, and minutes aren’t taken.

Scoggins said she has already given Berry the documents that were available. Those include a transcript of the hearing itself, as well as letters sent to Sells and to Doug Jewell, who challenged Sells’ residency. Jewell defeated Sells in 2014, and was re-elected mayor in 2018.

“She has copies of everything that we had,” Scoggins said of Berry.

Scoggins said that while the records are to be destroyed under the state’s record retention policy, officials sometimes keep items for reference.

The Coweta Board of Registrars no longer exists. In 2017, the board of elections and the board of registrars were dissolved and a new Board of Elections and Registration was created. Coweta Chief Registrar Joan Hamilton, who presided over the 2011 board hearing, retired a few years ago.