Breaking News

Georgia lawmaker attacks John Lewis’ legacy, loses chairmanship

X

Lithonia mayor’s race spurs investigation into candidate’s residence

Shameka Reynolds (left) and Cindy Thomas are running to be mayor of Lithonia. (Photos: Handout via Facebook)
Shameka Reynolds (left) and Cindy Thomas are running to be mayor of Lithonia. (Photos: Handout via Facebook)

An investigation into the residency of a mayoral candidate has muddied the race in Lithonia less than a week before Election Day.

The Georgia secretary of state's office is investigating whether Cindy Thomas has met the legal requirement of being a resident of the city for one year before the election, several officials told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The county elections board dismissed a similar challenge to Thomas’ residency earlier this year.

Thomas’ campaign manager, John Jackson, said the secretary of state’s office is just “doing their due diligence,” and that “there is no debate to be had” about her residency. Jackson also called the complaint a “smear campaign” by members of City Council who don’t want Thomas to win.

The new investigation comes at the tail end of a tumultuous campaign season for the small DeKalb County city, where Mayor Deborah Jackson is not running for re-election after eight years in office.

Earlier this election cycle, Lithonia council members Ric Dodd and Amelia Inman filed a challenge to Thomas’ residency with the DeKalb Board of Registration and Elections. Dodd said Thomas had been living at her boyfriend’s house in the city for a portion of the last year, and was not living at the address listed when she qualified to run for office.

“Everybody in the city knew that she didn’t live at that house,” Dodd said. “It’s really becoming obvious.”

Thomas appeared before the elections board on Sept. 12 to contest the residency challenge, according to the minutes of the meeting. She and her attorney “provided information regarding her residency in Lithonia,” and several people spoke in support of Thomas, the minutes show. The elections board decided that she could retain her candidacy.

DeKalb County spokesman Andrew Cauthen said the county could not comment further because the case is now being investigated by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office. Walter Jones, a spokesman for Raffensperger said he could not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation so close to an election.

Lithonia City Hall
Lithonia City Hall

Credit: J.D. CAPELOUTO/JDCAPELOUTO@AJC.COM

Credit: J.D. CAPELOUTO/JDCAPELOUTO@AJC.COM

Jackson, the current mayor, said the city was recently contacted by the secretary of state’s office, which requested some city documents.

Thomas said the allegations are “underhanded attacks,” and that the matter was effectively closed when the board of elections made its ruling.

“I meet every qualification for mayor,” said Thomas, who has served on Lithonia’s downtown development authority and other boards in the city. Her campaign website describes her as a “daughter of Lithonia.”

The investigation may not be complete before the Nov. 4 election, officials said. Early voting has already begun.

City officials acknowledged that this year’s campaign season has been more turbulent than Lithonia is used to.

Lithonia is less than one square mile, but Jackson and Dodd said the city was forced to have discussions about the placement and removal of campaign signs.

Councilwoman Shameka Reynolds, Thomas' opponent in the mayor's race, said a campaign sign in front of her business was slashed with a knife.

“In a city that’s only 2,100 people, the people in this city just aren’t used to this kind of drama in an election,” Dodd said. “I’ll be glad when this election over with, one way or the other.”

Follow DeKalb County News on Facebook and Twitter 

In other news:

The crash happened at the Clairmont Hills Townhouses on Peachwood Circle at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.