(CONYERS, GA) What a difference a day makes. Last Tuesday businessman and community leader Courtney Dillard, an influential Democrat and popular pastor, was declared ineligible to run as an Independent candidate for Rockdale County Commission Chairman. He failed to get the required 2,534 verifiable voter signatures for his name to go the November ballot.
Dillard’s campaign team says it has not given up on receiving copies of the 1,134 signatures in question. Dillard and others dispute the “bizarre” decision.
“It’s a slap in the face to Rockdale voters,” opines conservative political commentator Shelly Wynter. “In a time when the voters are looking at two highly unpopular choices for president, it boggles my mind how a local county would lock out any voters’ choice.”
However, on Wednesday Dillard bounced backed from that “bump in the road” by winning a ruling by Rockdale Board of Elections Supervisor Cynthia Welch that said, he [Dillard] has the legitimate right to now run as a write-in candidate for the prized political office.
“We’ve never dealt with this on a local level before but I learned that he does have the right to run as a write-in after his petition as an Independent became invalid,” Welch told On Common Ground publisher Valerie Morgan. “Any write-in candidate would have to file a notice of intent by Sept. 6 and an affidavit of publication by Sept. 12 with the county’s legal organ,” Welch said. “We must have that. Otherwise, you’d have people writing in their own name, Jesus Christ or Jimmy Carter.”
“To take him off the ballot and say voters can write-in is a joke,” adds Wynter. “Especially in an election where you may not get over a 40 percent turnout.”
The insurgent politico is now poised and positioned to face the Democrat nominee, Oz Nesbitt, who until this week’s topsy-turvy decisions had presumed he was the Rockdale Chairman-elect. Dillard, also a Democrat, filed a notice on August 11th.
“This is a process that we will see to the end and we will win in the end,” says the 53 year old who has previously run unsuccessfully for Rockdale County Commission and the U.S. Congress. “The numbers point to a pathway to victory for the Dillard campaign.” Dillard contends that, “this is a battle for the future of Rockdale County.”
“I am the only candidate running for Rockdale Chairman that has a proven record of successfully bringing the people together. Creating healthy, productive and sustainable public-private partnerships is a huge part of what I bring to the table—and if elected it will prove valuable toward building a better county government,” says Dillard.
That promise by Dillard may or may not be proven to be true but this truly does promise to be a heated and healthy political contest for a growing and multi-racial county that is transitioning from suburban to urban. This is destined to be an intriguing and intense race to determine Rockdale’s future.
“Courtney Dylan is a good brother and he should consider running for Rockdale County CEO,” opines NEWSMAKERS Live/Journal political commentator Jim Welcome, who is a loyal Oz Nesbit supporter. “But he should've gotten in the race and ran in the Democratic primary as did the presumptive CEO Oz Nesbitt. It's okay to run as a Independent but he should not be allowed to be on the ballot as a write-in because that's just trickery politics. If you don't participate in the qualifying heats take your ass home.”
Dillard argues differently. “Courtney Dillard is the only candidate for Chairman that can bring true change and authentic leadership to a county that has the potential to become the icon of the eastern I-20 corridor.”
For the past year Dillard has been president of a dynamic community service organization called The Leadership Team. He is now ready to make Rockdale history as a write-in winner for Commission Chairman, but will Nesbit rebuff his unorthodox and undeniable challenge?
“Rockdale citizens will see a riveting and robust campaign,” he says. “It promises to be a thriller. Just go in, write-in (Dillard) and Rockdale wins!”