Politics in Snellville is always interesting, so it’s not a real surprise that a residency challenge has arisen in this year’s city council races. But first, let’s set the table.
Two years ago, Kelly Kautz won a hard fought race for mayor against Barbara Bender, who was a sitting councilwoman at the time. Each candidate had her own vision for the direction the city should take. And each candidate had her own allies on city council. Kautz and Mike Sabbagh, who was elected to council in 2009, typically are on one side of an issue, while the remaining council members, Tom Witts, Dave Emanuel, Bobby Howard and Diane Krause are on the other. The Kautz/Sabbagh faction desperately wants more allies on the Council to move their agenda forward.
This brings us to the 2013 elections. Barbara Bender is trying for a return to the council, and is running for the seat held by Sabbagh, Dexter Harrison is running for the seat held by Howard, and Alisa Boykin hopes to unseat Witts.
The campaigning got going early, with yard signs sprouting up across the city before Labor Day and with allegations of various false statements by candidates spreading across social media. If one drives through Snellville, it’s pretty obvious that the intensity level, as judged by the number of yard signs, is stronger here than it is in other cities with mayoral races this fall, and voters are for one side or the other, since you are unlikely to see a Sabbagh, Boykin or Harrison sign in a yard populated with a Bender, Howard or Witts sign.
To complicate things even further, city resident Marilyn Swinney is challenging Alisa Boykin’s candidacy claiming she does not meet the 12 month residency requirement in order to be a candidate for council. For her part, Boykin denies it. Swinney recently won a $15,000 settlement from the city after claiming her free speech rights were violated by Kautz at a council meeting earlier this year. A hearing to resolve the issue will be held at 11 AM on Thursday at City Hall.
UPDATED: It appears Ms. Boykin is eligible to run for City Council.