By John Schaffner
Mary Norwood said July 30 she would not appeal the July 27 ruling by Fulton Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter that keeps her from running as an independent candidate for chair of the Fulton County Commission on the November ballot.
Baxter had ruled against the request by Buckhead resident 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.
According to a representative of the Norwood campaign team, Baxter “specifically mentioned that he ruled quickly, with the thought that Norwood may move this to a higher court.”
However, Norwood, in a phone call from Maine told Reporter Newspapers, “I will not appeal the ruling by Judge Baxter.”
Norwood said her decision was made late July 29 after conferring on a conference call with national election consultants and her campaign staff regarding Georgia law and the probability of her winning an appeal if she continued the appeal fight to higher courts.
In the Superior Court filing, Norwood’s lawyers had argued that the Fulton elections 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, some four hours after the noon deadline.
“Well over 30,000 signatures gathered in 90 days speak volumes about what the people want,” Norwood said at the time the appeal was filed. “Voters clearly want to see more choice on the ballot.”
Norwood, who is now vacationing on Penobscot Bay in Maine with her husband, Dr. Felton Norwood, said she is spending some time deciding exactly what she will do after she returns to Atlanta in September, but she will work to ensure that the election process in Fulton County and Georgia is fair in November and in the future.
She indicated she may pursue avenues to influence legislative reform regarding Georgia’s regulations for candidates to qualify to run in local and statewide elections.
“Georgia requires the largest number of qualified registered voter signatures on petitions just to allow a person to qualify to run for a state or local office as an independent,” she said. “I managed to gather 33,000 qualified signatures” in the bid to run in the November election. “But for many hoping to seek office as independent candidates, it is a huge and impossible hurdle to clear.”
In her attempt to get on the ballot to seek the chairmanship of the Fulton County Commission as an independent, Norwood was required to collect the signatures of 22,598 registered Fulton County residents.
She said the fact she had just come off the close loss to Kasim Reed in the race to become mayor of Atlanta helped her generate the 33,000 signatures she needed in Fulton County.
“I know for sure that when I return to Atlanta in September I will pick up working for the same issues—quality of life and government fiscal responsibility—that I have worked on for almost 20 years now,” Norwood said.