By John Schaffner
Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter ruled July 27 against the request by Buckhead resident Mary Norwood for a declaratory judgment that she hoped would reverse the Fulton Board of Registration and Election’s decision not to allow her to be on the November ballot for the post of chair or the Fulton County Commission.
According to a representative of the Norwood campaign team, Judge Baxter “specifically mentioned that he ruled quickly, with the thought that Norwood may move this to a higher court.” Norwood, who is seeking to run as an independent candidate, was reviewing her options with her legal and support team late in the afternoon on Tuesday, July 27.
In the filing, Norwood’s lawyers argue that the board had discretion to allow Norwood to appear on the ballot under Georgia law and should have exercised that discretion based upon the board’s finding that there was no harm from Norwood filing her notice of candidacy on July 2 four hours after the noon deadline.
“Well over 30,000 signatures gathered in 90 days speak volumes about what the people want,” Norwood said. “Voters clearly want to see more choice on the ballot.”
This is the second time Norwood’s campaign has gone to court seeking a ruling to get on the November ballot.
On July 1, Baxter dismissed Norwood’s request for a court ruling on whether her campaign properly collected thousands of signatures. At that time, the judge said Norwood’s lawsuit did not create a legal controversy on which the court could rule.
On July 13, Norwood’s campaign filed more than 33,000 signatures on nearly 3,200 notarized pages with the election board in support of the Buckhead resident’s independent bid. Norwood was required to obtain at least 22,598 signatures of registered Fulton County residents in order to run as an independent in the November election.
“We believe we will have enough valid signatures to meet Fulton County’s requirements to add my name to the ballot for Fulton County Commission Chair, which is vastly more than was required of my opponents,” Norwood said. “We simply want a fair shot at getting on the ballot. Let the people decide who should run the commission in November.”