Roswell mayoral candidate to challenge residency disqualification

A candidate in the heated race to replace Roswell's five-term mayor is challenging a ruling that disqualifies her from running for office.

Sandra Sidhom, one of five candidates vying to lead the city, has not lived in Roswell for a full year, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said in a Tuesday letter to Roswell elections superintendent Marlee Press. State law requires candidates to be residents for one year prior to the general election, Nov. 7.

Sidhom said in her qualifying documents that she had lived in the city since 1999 and provided a copy of a lease signed this April with a Roswell address. Copies of her driver’s license, issued in 2010 and 2016, show the same Bradford Court address.

But Eric Schumacher, a Roswell resident who challenged Sidhom’s ability to run with the city’s elections superintendent, said Sidhom’s family sold their home this spring.

Howard’s office investigated the claims and said in his letter to the city that Sidhom “is not eligible to hold the office of Mayor of the City of Roswell.” He wrote that he is continuing to investigate whether she should be charged with false swearing. Howard did not respond to requests for additional comment about his findings.

Schumacher said in an email that he wants to ensure only candidates who are eligible to hold the office receive attention and consideration.

“A mayor should be a role model,” he said. “We’ve had enough issues with this recently in Roswell. I am saddened that Sidhom may have disappointed even one voter or any person looking to her for inspiration.”

Jere Wood, Roswell's current mayor, announced in August that he would not seek a sixth term after a judge ruled that he had violated the term limits that he had championed. Wood appealed the decision and is able to stay in office while that case is ongoing.

Sidhom’s disqualification will not be official until the city holds a public hearing accepting the district attorney’s findings, said Julie Brechbill, a spokesperson for Roswell. Sidhom requested the hearing, and the city has scheduled it for Friday at 1 p.m. in room 220 of Roswell’s city hall. Sidhom will be given the opportunity to speak at the hearing.

Sidhom said in an email that she could not comment on the allegations about her residency “until my lawyers give me the green light.” Robert Rubin, an attorney who was working for Sidhom, said he was no longer on her case. Sidhom’s campaign manager and a spokesperson for her also said they had stopped working for her last month.

Early voting has already started. If Sidhom is disqualified, any votes cast for her will be discarded. Residents who have already voted are not able to cast their vote for another candidate, Brechbill said.

If she is disqualified, Sidhom will remain on the ballot through election day, but signs will be posted saying she is no longer a qualified candidate, Brechbill said.

In the meantime, early voting remains open. In addition to Sidhom, the candidates are Michael Litten, Lori Henry, Donald J. Horton and Lee Jenkins.

The next mayor will have to contend with issues of growth, be a voice in discussions about transit expansion in Fulton County and lead an ever-larger city. Wood, who has been mayor for 20 years, has been an outsized voice in favor of transit. He has also come under fire for allowing too much development in a city that has grown by more than 20 percent during his term, from about 79,000 residents in 2000 to nearly 95,000 in 2016, according to Census data.