A Dallas mayor candidate received a serious blow to her campaign Monday, Oct. 7, after a judge affirmed the county election board’s decision to disqualify her from the Nov. 5 city election.
Superior Court Senior Judge Grant Brantley of Cobb County ruled the Paulding County Board of Elections’ Sept. 11 hearing was done lawfully and he will not alter its decision to disqualify Narda Konchel as a candidate for not living in the city for the required amount of time to serve as mayor.
The elections board ruled after its hearing that Konchel had not proven she had lived in Dallas for one full year before qualifying as a candidate Aug. 19, as required by the city’s charter.
Konchel appealed the ruling to the Paulding Superior Court and Brantley was appointed to hear the case after all Paulding judges recused themselves.
Brantley wrote in his order Monday, Oct. 7, that “the court is serving as a reviewing court” and could only consider issues raised during the elections board’s Sept. 11 hearing on Mayor Boyd Austin’s challenge that Konchel did not meet the residency requirement.
The judge said he found the elections board did not violate the state constitution; exceed the election superintendent’s legal authority; make a “clearly erroneous” decision based on the evidence presented; or make other errors.
“Having reviewed the record, the court finds that there is substantial evidence in the record supporting that decision, and it was not clearly erroneous,” Brantley wrote.
“The court cannot substitute its judgment for that of the board as to the weight of evidence or credibility of witnesses. The procedures followed by the board were consistent with the requirements within (state law) …” Brantley wrote.
Konchel can appeal Brantley’s ruling to the state Supreme Court, said her attorney, Mason Rountree.
However, early voting in the Dallas city election is set to begin Monday, Oct. 14.
Austin, who is seeking a seventh term, had claimed Konchel could not prove she had lived in a converted residential area in a Main Street commercial building’s basement for a year before she qualified as a candidate on Aug. 19 — a claim Konchel disputed.
Rountree said he respected Brantley’s decision but he believed the elections board made some legal errors in its decision, such as being “inconsistent” in saying she was qualified to vote in the Nov. 5 election but not be a candidate on its ballot.
Austin said he was “very pleased” with Brantley’s expected ruling and said he “knew from the start that she did not meet the strict charter wording regarding qualification.”