Marietta City council candidate claims incumbent has conflict

A candidate for the Marietta City Council says the incumbent he’s trying to unseat has a conflict of interest and should be removed from the Nov. 3 ballot.

Irvan Pearlberg’s job as senior assistant district attorney in the Cobb Judicial Circuit is incompatible with his duties as a city council member, challenger Wes Godwin said in a complaint filed with the Cobb County Elections Board. The board will hear the complaint at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Pearlberg said Monday that he checked with the Georgia Attorney General’s office about the possibility of a conflict before he ran in 2001 and was told there was no problem. Pearlberg lost that election but won in 2005 with no opposition.

“I am confident the complaint will be dismissed,” Pearlberg said. He hired Tom Cauthorn, a former Superior Court judge, to handle his case.

If Pearlberg is disqualified, that would clear the way for Godwin to join the council, since he and Pearlberg were the only candidates who qualified for that seat.

Godwin’s written complaint alleges a conflict exists because the district attorney’s office might have to investigate city employees or the city council itself. The district attorney’s office and city council must also work together to validate bonds, Godwin said.

“There need not be any actual wrongdoing to create a conflict of interest, and none is suggested here,” Godwin’s complaint says.

Godwin submitted two opinions from the Georgia Attorney General’s office, which he says back up his argument. Those opinions said assistant district attorneys should not hold a seat in the legislature or a mayorship. Pearlberg said he’s seen those opinions and they don’t apply to him because he’s paid by Cobb County, not the state government.

Godwin said Monday that he hasn’t hired a lawyer yet.