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Baker stays on ballot as mayoral candidate in Columbus

Armed and loaded with old utility bills, receipts and other forms of documentation going back more than 16 years, mayoral candidate Zeph Baker appeared before the Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registration Thursday and proved he’s a legal resident of Columbus, Ga., and that he deserves to be on the May 22 ballot.

With one dissenting vote, the board overruled a complaint filed by Beth Harris — another candidate for mayor — who alleged that Baker received Homestead Exemption on a house in Coweta County and that he did not live at 1091 Bolton Court, the Columbus address he put on his application to run for office and the address that’s on his voter registration card.

Along with the personal papers, Baker delivered one big question: “Where are my accusers?”

Told Harris did not have to be present, Baker said, “She threw a stone and ran the other way.”

Baker methodically made his case by going through the bills and receipts and listing his community involvements in Columbus dating back to when he was a Boy Scout while attending Clubview Elementary School. He also offered his year-by-year record as a voter dating back to 1994. He is currently the chairman of the county Board of Equalization.

Chairman Margaret Jenkins read the complaint and said the board would decide whether it lived up to what the complainant alleged. The motion to keep Baker on the upcoming ballot was by board member Linda Parker who participated by telephone.

“Let the people decide,” she said.

The negative vote was cast by U.D. Roberts who said he did not think the board had enough time to look into the complaint. He questioned Baker on where he operated his private businesses and also inquired about his personal life.

“My wife filed for Homestead Exemption in Newnan. She had sold her house and she invested the money into the house in Coweta County,” said Baker who was a single father for 13 years after the death of his first wife.

He described their blended family.

“I had three children and she had two,” he said. “I’ve always tried to consider my children first and I wanted my daughter to grow up with a woman in the house.”

Baker and Harris are among six candidates for mayor hoping to succeed Teresa Tomlinson who cannot run for a third term. The other candidates are former Columbus Council member Skip Henderson along with newcomers Danny Arencibia, Charles Roberts and Winfred Shipman Jr.

 

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