The Richmond County Board of Elections took about 40 minutes Monday to dismiss a challenge filed by a retired Hephzibah chemical worker against the qualification of sheriff candidate Richard Roundtree.
Willie E. Cooper Jr., who alleged the Board of Education public safety officer owed back taxes, did not attend a hearing on the challenge, but had hired attorney Rodney Quesenberry to represent him, Quesenberry said.
“I would have thought if he was that concerned, he would have been down here,” Charles Lyons, one of two attorneys representing Roundtree, said of Cooper. “I think they just needed a name, somebody to sign his name on a document.”
Roundtree supporter Delma Anderson called the challenge “a strategic move by some of his opponents.”
“I didn’t think it had any merit to it whatsoever,” Anderson said.
Regardless, Roundtree’s attorneys showed the panel of Mtesa Wright, L.C. Myles and Chip Barbee documents indicating the candidate was current on a payment plan for unpaid federal taxes and had satisfied a state tax lien for a few hundred dollars on June 5, a few days after swearing his qualifying affidavit.
Lyons said the law was “quite clear that at any time the disability that has been alleged can be removed by payment in full of the taxes, or evidence of a payment plan.”
Quesenberry said Cooper hadn’t wanted to exclude Roundtree, one of six candidates seeking the post, but wanted to “make sure all the candidates play by the same rules.”
The elections board, missing Republican member Sherry Barnes, went behind closed doors before dismissing the challenge, 3-0.
Roundtree faces fellow Democratic sheriff contenders Scott Peebles, Robbie Silas and John Ivey on the July 31 primary ballot. The winner will face the Republican nominee for sheriff, Freddie Sanders or Michael Godowns.