By Joe Earle
A Fulton Superior Court judge has dismissed candidate Mary Norwood’s request for a court ruling on whether her campaign properly collected thousands of signatures on her petition to run for Fulton County Commission Chair as an independent.
In an order filed July 1, Superior Court Judge Jerry W. Baxter said Norwood’s lawsuit did not create a legal controversy on which the court could rule.
“The court finds that, at this time, there is no actual controversy … and the ends of justice do not warrant a declaratory judgment,” the judge wrote.
Norwood’s campaign said it would continue to collect signatures until the final day, July 12.
“While I am disappointed with the judge’s ruling, our campaign is hopeful that when the petitions are filed on July 13, the Board of Registration and Elections and, if necessary, Judge Baxter, will validate the signatures by the law, their department’s written approvals and common sense,” Norwood said in a press release issued by her campaign July 1.
Norwood brought suit asking that the judge determine whether signatures collected on her petitions would be disqualified because the words “Fulton County” were printed on the petition forms as part of signers’ addresses, rather than written in by the signers.
Norwood’s lawyer, Matt Maguire, said 2,000 to 3,000 signatures collected on Norwood’s behalf were at issue.
To win a spot on the ballot as an independent candidate for commission chair, Norwood must collect signatures from 5 percent of Fulton County’s registered voters on petitions asking she be allowed to run. She needs a total of about 23,000 signatures, and claims to have at least 15,000.
Norwood has said she filed suit because representatives of the campaign of Fulton Commission Chairman John Eaves’ campaign claimed each petition signer had to write the words “Fulton County” on the form along with his or her address.
During a hearing on the lawsuit June 30, Buddy Darden, Eaves’ lawyer, argued the question should be decided not by a judge, but by the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections.