Fulton Court Restores APN Editor’s Name to Ballot, Overruling City of Atlanta
(APN) ATLANTA — On Friday, February 22, 2019, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly Lee Ellerbe ruled that the City of Atlanta was “arbitrary and capricious” in its decision early last week to remove candidate Matthew Charles Cardinale from the ballot in the March 19, 2019 Special Election.
The City of Atlanta and Fulton County worked together beginning late Friday to ensure that Cardinale’s name was restored to the ballot in time for Early Voting, which began Monday February 25, 2019 at Fulton County Government Center.
Cardinale–the present writer–is the News Editor and Founder of Atlanta Progressive News.
“I continue to believe that this was a politically calculated scheme to attempt to undermine my candidacy. The City of Atlanta is clearly terrified of the oversight, accountability, and fundamental respect for the public that I would bring to Atlanta City Hall,” Cardinale said in a statement.
“These Councilmembers are so used to trampling all over the public,” Cardinale said. “I am a candidate who will fight for your honor.”
The March 19, 2019 Special Election is to fill the vacant seat created by the tragic passing of Councilman Ivory Lee Young, Jr. (District 3), who succumbed to a years-long struggle with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer.
There are currently nine candidates for the seat, including former Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education Member Byron Amos (District 2); Antonio Brown; Ricky Brown; Matthew Charles Cardinale; Greg Clay; Erika Estrada; Mesha Mainor; former Councilman Jabari Simama; and Shalise Young, widow of the late incumbent.
City of Atlanta Municipal Clerk Foris Webb, III, acting as Election Superintendent, challenged Cardinale’s residency, arguing that an AirBNB where Cardinale dwelled in the District prior to his current home, could not qualify as a domicile due to what he said was the inherently temporary nature of AirBNBs.
“My decision is also based on (what I consider) the inherently temporary nature of obtaining housing through a service such as Airbnb. Unlike hotels, Airbnb bookings are not generally considered to be of a continuous nature based on the guests desire to remain and ability to pay. It is my opinion that a rental through Airbnb is short-term and not indefinite or continuous,” Mr. Webb wrote.
But Judge Ellerbe questioned this assertion in court, asking Assistant City Attorney Reginald McClendon, who specializes in election law for the City of Atlanta, to clarify where in the record the basis for the assertion could be found.
McClendon told Judge Ellerbe that it was Webb’s opinion as the fact-finder, but that there was not basis in the record.
Judge Ellerbe’s opinion was meticulous and detailed, and she was quite prepared to hear the case in terms of being familiar with the pleadings in the case, at the Feb. 22 Emergency Hearing, only two days after the petition was filed.
“It shouldn’t matter if someone lives in a rooming house, their car, a trailer, a homeless shelter, a treehouse, a street corner, an extended stay hotel, an AirBNB, the Ritz Carlton, or the Waldorf Astoria. We all should have the right to participate in democracy, as long as we had one year of residency in District 3,” Cardinale said.
This is Cardinale’s sixth legal victory over the City of Atlanta, following (1) a freedom of the press victory for APN in 2011 in Fulton County Superior Court; (2) the Supreme Court of Georgia ruling in 2012 in Cardinale v. City of Atlanta after the City Council took an illegal, secret vote; (3) a 2013 settlement that coincided with the opening of the formerly-closed Committee Briefings of the Atlanta City Council; (4) a successful business tax appeal for APN in 2018 that avoided litigation; and (5) a First Amendment challenge that resulted in a problematic ordinance being repealed in January 2019, which also avoided litigation.
“It had been six years since I had been in court with the City, and I have been pleased that we’ve been able to resolve so many matters without going to court. It looks like I had to defeat the City one more time to get back on this ballot.”
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2019)