The city of Buford is investigating the qualifications of a local commission candidate it says is not technically a resident of the city; has a previous felony conviction; and has a state-issued lien for tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid child support.
If true, any of those allegations could, under state law, be enough to disqualify political newcomer Gary A. Ingram and end his challenge to longtime Commissioner L. Chris Burge.
A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Tuesday morning. The city election is scheduled for Nov. 7.
Reached Monday, Ingram denied or attempted to clarify some of the city’s assertions. But he said he’s not trying to hide anything.
“I was running open book, it is what it is,” the 53-year-old truck driver said. “I’m running for the people.”
In a letter formally challenging Ingram’s qualifications, Buford’s city attorneys allege that Ingram’s father evicted him from the Forest Street home where the candidate was living on Aug. 17. That was less than a week before Ingram filled out his candidacy affidavit.
A Gwinnett County magistrate judge ruled earlier this month that Ingram was still living in the home “unjustly.” The city argues that Ingram is not, therefore, a legal resident of Buford.
Ingram, a native of the city, said he’s currently living in his car.
Buford also claimed that, in 2004, Ingram pleaded guilty in Clayton County to theft charges related to a stolen $40,000 trailer. He spent about seven months in prison, records show.
Ingram said he could have had his record “expunged” but didn’t have time to do so.
In addition, Buford’s attorneys believe that the Georgia Department of Human Resources filed a lien on Ingram in 2008 “in the amount of $73,422.91.” That money was allegedly “for child support owed to [Ingram’s] dependent children and public assistance monies paid to his children by the Department of Human Resources.”
Ingram balked at the city calling that money “public funds.” He said it was a civil settlement and he is still making child support payments in arrears.
Walt Britt, one of Buford’s attorneys, said the city had complaints from multiple sources regarding Ingram’s residency and his previous felony arrest. Britt said he found Ingram’s lien history through a subsequent check of court records.
Ingram said Monday he hadn’t been aware of the public hearing scheduled for Tuesday morning. The meeting was referenced in an Oct. 17 letter addressed to Ingram.
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