SAVANNAH -- Savannah officials didn't extend the qualifying deadline for the Nov. 2 municipal election after last week's mandatory hurricane evacuation -- and at least one candidate says she's being shut out of the race as a result.
Neighborhood activist Virginia Mobley says she had planned to file for mayor, but evacuated to Perry and Atlanta with elderly travelers. She said she didn't get back to town until after Friday afternoon's filing deadline.
"I left town on Tuesday morning, hoping I would get back in time but hoping they would do the gentlemanly thing and extend it, so that you had five working days," Ms. Mobley said.
"I came back with a kidney infection and dehydrated. There was no way I could make it there. I want to run, and think I could do a good job, but not to the point of life and death."
Mayor Floyd Adams, Jr. is running unopposed for his second four-year term. Eight incumbents and six challengers qualified for eight council seats. Five are unopposed.
The hurricane evacuation threw election officials a curveball, because Georgia's election code doesn't address what municipalities should do when an emergency or natural disaster interrupts the qualifying period.
The city's qualifying began last Monday and ended Friday. But because of the evacuation, the clerk's office was closed for a day-and-a-half -- Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday. That's within the bounds of state law, which dictates that the qualifying period be at least three days long.
Ten candidates qualified Monday, and two made it to city hall on Tuesday before it closed at 1 p.m. No candidates qualified Thursday when the office reopened. The last three qualified Friday afternoon.
Early last week, when it became apparent that much of coastal Georgia would need to evacuate, the secretary of state's office faxed a memo to election officials telling them that even though the state Constitution and Georgia laws don't specifically address the issue, they could ask a Superior Court judge to extend the qualifying period.
Mr. Adams said there was talk among council members of trying to extend council's deadline. But no one officially asked him to call a meeting to discuss the matter, he said, and he didn't think a special meeting to discuss an extension was necessary.
"I had the option but I didn't do it," Mr. Adams said. "I didn't feel it was warranted. Everyone had an opportunity to qualify .... It should not be an issue."