A candidate vying for a spot on the Atlanta City Council won his legal battle Friday to have his name restored on the ballot for the March 19 special election.
Matthew Charles Cardinale successfully argued during an emergency hearing in Fulton County Superior Court that city election officials violated the law when they disqualified him for failing to meet the residency requirements.
“Not only has [the decision] created a lot confusing among the public it’s made it difficult for me to raise money and have volunteers,” Cardinale said at the hearing. “I have been prohibited from attending forums.”
The city disqualified Cardinale on Monday stating that his stay at an Airbnb violated the law. The city requires that a candidate live in their respective district at least a year before running for an office. Cardinale had stayed at a 16th street apartment rented through Airbnb from Jan. 14 to Feb. 14 in 2018, according to his appeal. He later moved to a home on Bernard Street. Both residences are located in the District 3.
In court Friday, City Attorney Reginald McClendon said an Airbnb isn’t considered a “traditional domicile.”
“A lot of that is based on the fact that these house-sharing services are new,” he said.
McClendon said Cardinale failed to change his mailing address and did not put utilities in his name when he moved to the Airbnb.
“These are all things that someone would do if you intend to live there [long term],” he said.
However, Judge Kelly Lee Ellerbe agreed with Cardinale and in her ruling wrote: “There is no evidence in the record to support the finding that [Cardinale] was temporarily in the District as of January 23, 2018 or that he had the intention of removing himself from the District.”
Fulton election officials said Cardinale’s name will appear on the ballot for early voting.
“Once a decision is made we have to get the state to redo the ballot to have his name added,” Fulton County Board of Elections Director Richard Barron said in court. Barron said the city would still have to set up the machines for voting, but will add Cardinale’s name if a ruling is made in his favor. That process could take up to five to six hours.
Cardinale is one of nine candidates vying for the seat held by former Councilman Ivory Lee Young Jr.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.