The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office Is investigating complaints that a registered voter was turned away from the polls in Baconton and that absentee ballots were improperly handled. But that’s just a sampling of the shenanigans occurring at city hall, including illegal City Council meetings, says part-time Baconton resident Jessica McCrary and Charlene Porcha, who was fired as city clerk in August.
Mrs. McCrary said that that she and other residents shared concerns and documentation with state officials following the Nov. 3 election. Meanwhile, Ms. McCrary and Porcha said, the Baconton City Council regularly conducting illegal closed-door meetings.
“There are a lot of things going in secret,” she said of the municipal government in the northern Mitchell County town of about 800 residents. “It’s really crazy the way the election was handled — and there’s a lot of people related to each other working for the city. There’s a lot of improper management because there are three (council members) who want to be in charge.
Porcha said that when she was fired in August, three commissioners had already met and discussed the matter and consulted with the city attorney without advertising the meeting.
“The mayor wasn’t even aware of what was going on,” she said.
The Albany Journal could not reach Mayor Charles Johnson on Tuesday. City Council member Tim Pinson said, though, that he doubts that election fraud occurred. Besides, Pinson said, the race in question wasn’t close.
“I have followed on it and feel as though the lady in question was given a provisional ballot,” he said.
Still, state officials are following up on the matter.
“We do have an open investigation stemming from a complaint regarding the City Council race,” said Matt Carrothers, a spokesman for the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.
Pinson, too, has had his own run-ins with Baconton’s leaders, squaring off with his colleagues on the commission over several issues, including redistricting.
“I’ve been on the other end of not being able to find out information. Some years we’ve had elected officials and employee who couldn’t even see a bank statement or financial statement until the GBI came in,” Pinson said.
Former City Council member Jamie Sullivan said Tuesday it was frustration with the city’s leadership attributed to him not seeking re-election.
Mrs. McCrary, meanwhile, said the City Council has a tendency to hold closed-door meetings and does not comply with the state law requiring it to state the purpose of the meeting and file affidavits afterward. Another concern raised by Mrs. McCrary is that the city is applying for state grant funds for drainage improvements on Jackson Street instead of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, which Mrs. McCrary says has much greater flooding problems.