Sheriff’s Candidate Challenge Postponed on Technicality

By Carol A. Gasser Moore

LAKELAND, GEORGIA – The Lanier County Election Board met in a public hearing to a small crowd of onlookers this morning (Friday, March 13th).  The hearing regarded the challenge by current Sheriff Nick Norton (incumbent) of the application by Kenton Moore Jr. in a bid to run against Norton in the May General Election for the position of Lanier County Sheriff.

As an outcome of the hearing, the decision was made to postpone a ruling based upon procedural objections.

Ryan Tuten, Chairman of the Lanier County Election Board, and board members, Amy Griffin, Anthony Gutierrez and Theba Sirmans were present for the hearing. Absent was Election Board Member Gene Sellers.  Also present was Josh Black, Lanier County Election Superintendent and Board Attorney Suzanne Patten Mathis.  Sheriff Nick Norton was present.  Kenton Moore Jr. was not present.

Sheriff Norton had filed a written challenge of Moore’s application [see https://www.laniercountynewsonline.com/2020/03/10/letter-from-c-nick-norton-to-elections-superintendent-3620/] with Lanier County Election Supervisor Josh Black on March 10, along with support documentation.  Norton stated that Moore had signed an affidavit certifying that he had filed complete, true and correct regarding his candidacy application.  Norton cited that Moore was convicted on a felony charge of issuing a bad check.

Since Georgia law does not spell out procedures for these challenges or for the vetting of candidate qualifications for an elected office.  Within elections, vetting is the process of performing a background check on someone before an office seeker runs for a public office.

After the hearing concluded, Irwin County Election Supervisor Ken Collins, who was one of the hearings’ onlookers, mentioned that within Irwin County their procedure is to take applications to the Irwin County Probate Judge to be vetted.  That judge makes a written determination and verifies the eligibility of candidates seeking to qualify for an elected office.

Kenton Moore’s attorneys never denied that Moore has a felony record.  His attorneys did take issue with the hearings procedures.  Their objections were:  Elections Supervisor had not yet received the United States Postal Service’s certified receipt that Moore had been notified of the hearing date and time; and the legal criminal record documents in Black’s possession were not certified copies.

This is still a developing story.  There will be a second hearing scheduled within the next week.

Lanier County News offers this prayer:

Lord God, as Lanier County goes through the process of qualifying candidates filing for office, we seek wisdom and the following of law – yours and our Georgia legislature – as we seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront our city/state/country,
and how the Gospel compels us to respond as faithful citizens in our community.

We ask for eyes that are free from blindness
so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters,
one and equal in dignity,
especially those who are victims of abuse and violence, deceit and poverty.

We ask for minds and hearts that are open to hearing the voice of leaders who will bring us closer to your Kingdom.

We pray for discernment
so that we may choose leaders who hear your Word,
live your love,
and keep in the ways of your truth
as they follow in the steps of Jesus and his Apostles
and guide us to your Kingdom of justice and peace.

We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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