Qualifications of two more sheriff candidates questioned

COLUMBUS, Ga. – The list of official candidates for the Muscogee County Sheriff’s race is still up in the air.  Two more candidates are at risk of being disqualified after the Board of Elections held a special meeting Thursday.

The qualifications of candidates Donna Tompkins and Mark LaJoye are at stake.  A complaint was filed about these candidates not having the proper documents, but the board decided the complaint was not filed in a timely manner.  However, the board did decide they will challenge the candidates qualifications.

The Board of Elections is challenging whether or not sheriff candidate Mark LaJoye turned in proper documentation.  LaJoye says he turned in his birth certificate and high school diploma on the 11th, which were certified by the Elections Office.

“They called me the other day and said we didn’t have copies of them.  They’re would’ve been no reason for me to come up here and have these records certified to have them put in my records when in fact they weren’t put in my records,” LaJoye said.

Mark Shelnutt represents Pamela Brown who was previously disqualified.

“Unheard of.  I’ve never seen anything remotely like it,” Shelnutt said.

Brown was disqualified with Robert Smith after the board said they did not submit finger prints in a timely manner.

“Something already was wrong with the fact that out of five candidates the two that were African-Americans.  I’m just saying it doesn’t look right.  Something is not right.  Now you’re looking at having all four of the people that were on the primary be disqualified,” Shelnutt explained.

Nancy Boren with the Board of Elections says they have never challenged four candidates in one election cycle in the 20 years she’s worked there.

“Presidential election cycles are always interesting and so this just adds to the interest of the presidential national level and the local level and hopefully will drive turnout,” Boren said.

Shelnutt and LaJoye both think the public is suffering.

“All of this stuff that’s going on right now is ridiculous.  Let the people decide who their leadership is going to be,” LaJoye said.

Donna Tompkins and her attorney have no comment.

The Board of Elections will hold a hearing to discuss the qualifications of Tompkins and LaJoye on Monday at 1 p.m. in the council chambers.



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