Mell Traylor’s ‘neighbors’ say they’ve never seen him

From the Savannah Morning News: People who live near the home where Senate candidate Mell Traylor says he lives say they’ve never seen him there. Several of them identified another man, who Traylor said is his first cousin, as the occupant.Six people who live on the street where Democratic state Senate candidate Mell Traylor says he lives say they’ve never seen him there.

Several of them identified William J. Pitts, who Traylor said is his first cousin, as the occupant at 139 Nilsson Drive, the address listed on Traylor’s voter registration.

On Wednesday, Traylor’s opponent in the Nov. 7 general election, incumbent Republican Eric Johnson of Savannah, questioned whether Traylor resides in Chatham County.

As of Wednesday, Traylor also was still registered to vote in South Carolina, where he still has an office and a family home and has long done business.

Johnson also said Traylor listed a South Carolina address last year as his residence on two corporate filings.

Traylor voted in Beaufort County in 1996, but voted in Chatham County in this year’s June primary election and in the general elections in 1992, 1998, 2000, election records indicate.

Among those who said they’ve never seen Traylor was Diane Sabiston, who said she’s lived next door since 1992.

Karen Arms, a member of the Chatham County Democratic Committee, lives about half a block away at 107 Nilsson Drive.

Arms said she’s met Traylor, but has never seen him in the neighborhood and wasn’t aware that he was a neighbor.

In a separate conversation, her husband, Tom Smith, made similar comments.

Traylor, who said Wednesday that he also has a house in Cape Town, South Africa, insisted Thursday that he still lives at 139 Nilsson Drive.

“It’s been the family home forever,” he said.

“He’s a pain in the ass,” he said concerning Johnson.

But Traylor refused to say when he last stayed there.

“I stay where I want to,” he said shortly before hanging up on a reporter. “I have a girlfriend. I’m not married. I don’t have to go home and clock in like Eric.”

Pitts did not respond to three phone voice mail messages and a page seeking comment.

Legal documents and other records indicate that Pitts inherited the property and was sent a tax statement this year.

Traylor and Johnson are running for the coastal-area 1st District, which includes most of Chatham County’s suburbs.

State senators are required by law to live in the districts where they serve, but are not required to provide any proof of residence.

Voters in the district had two weeks after qualifying ended on April 28 to challenge whether a candidate met the residency requirement.

No one challenged Traylor, and under the law, only Secretary of State Cathy Cox may do so now, said spokeswoman Ashley Holt.

Johnson said Thursday that he thinks Traylor probably meets the residency requirement under the law.

“But voters may want someone who’s actually shopping and spending money and earning money in the district,” Johnson said.

“You want to elect someone who understands and can represent you. And a guy who has a house on Hilton Head and in Cape Town may not be able to understand the needs of a housewife in Liberty County.”

Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, agreed that serious questions about residency can hurt a candidate.

“It’s not a good thing to have the carpetbagger label floating around you,” Bullock said. “It doesn’t help your candidacy. It’s a problem especially if your opponent is an incumbent with strong ties to the community.”

Johnson has served in the Senate since 1995 and earlier served two years in the state House.

At issueState senators are required by law to live in the districts where they serve but are not required to provide any proof of residence.

Voters in the district had two weeks after qualifying ended on April 28 to challenge whether a candidate met the residency requirement.

No one challenged Traylor, and under the law, only Secretary of State Cathy Cox may do so now.

Traylor had this to say about the questions surrounding his place of residence: “I stay where I want to. I have a girlfriend. I’m not married. I don’t have to go home and clock in like Eric.”

13 comments

  1. CHelf says:

    Someone check 32 E 65th Street as well. In addition to his voting in 92, 98, and 00 in GA, he voted in 96 in SC. His GA registration has been active since 1991 and his SC registration has been active since 1993. So he’s registered in two places and votes back and forth in those two places. Election law violations anyone?

  2. mercergirl says:

    How can that happen? I’m confused. I think that would support the Voter ID law that Senator Staton is trying to pass, after all aren’t you required by law to have your drivers license changed if you move from state to state?

  3. Bull Moose says:

    This Traylor has littered the towns of Coastal Georgia with his campaign stuff on electric poles and on stop signs.

    In my parent’s neighborhood, there is a bumper sticker smack dab in the middle of the stop sign.

    Most people are very annoyed because tax dollars are going to have to go to clean up his mess.

    It’s sad…

  4. Demonbeck says:

    Traylor is a former state senator from the 70’s. Apparently, he wasn’t too ethical back then either.

    It’s not too surprising that he is currently involved somehow in the operation of strip clubs in SC at the former video poker/firecracker stores.

  5. Mad Dog says:

    Demonbeck,

    You’ve got something “hard” on these allegations from the 1970’s?

    You also said:

    “It’s not too surprising that he is currently involved somehow in the operation of strip clubs in SC at the former video poker/firecracker stores. ”

    We can do better than this as political insiders, eh?

    “he is currently involved somehow?”

    If the man is dirty, put the facts out.

    Isn’t that what you’d want me to do if I had dirt on Cagle?

  6. Mad Dog says:

    Mercergirl,

    That is a good tie in to voter fraud and the campaign issue of Voter ID.

    Didn’t some Snow Birds vote absentee in one “home” and at the polls in another state?

    So, would the proposed Georgia ID stop interstate fraud?

  7. Demonbeck says:

    Mad Dog,

    I was trying to be as correct as I possibly could. I have heard from several sources of his ties to the strip clubs over there and from a couple of trusted sources of some indiscretions that happened in the 70s. Since I cannot recall his exact connection to the strip clubs, I refrained from stating that he is the owner/operator/etc. Since I was born in the late 70s, I cannot recall his behavior as a Senator and the Savannah Morning News archives don’t go back that far.

  8. Mad Dog says:

    Demonbeck,

    My bad then. If you feel like you’ve got a good source, and you’re willing to stand by it, as you have…

    I’m wrong.

    Sorry man.

  9. CHelf says:

    He was a two term senator in the 70’s and bowed out to run for Lt Governor only to be reminded of an age limit.

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