Charles Love announced Wednesday that he has withdrawn as a candidate for the Rome City Commission.
Love, a co-founder of the North Rome Community Action Committee, qualified last week to run for one of the three Ward 1 seats. As part of qualifying for the post he submitted a statement from the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles certifying that his civil and political rights are restored.
He served nearly a year in federal prison for his part as a lobbyist who delivered money to lawmakers in exchange for their votes in the 2005 “Tennessee Waltz” bribery sting. Since coming to Rome, he’s been active in the community.
Love was originally qualified to run, but there was a question of whether the time elapsed from the completion of his sentence equaled a mandated 10-year period.
He issued this statement:
“After several years as a community volunteer, focused heavily on removing blight, reducing crime in North Rome and improving citizen engagement in public policy and also serving on several appointed boards and commissions, I concluded my efforts could be more successful as an elected member of the Rome City Commission.
“To achieve that goal, however, I realized I would have to make public a past transgression that forever changed my life. A dozen years ago while serving as a paid business advocate before the Tennessee legislature, I became entangled in an illegal activity that sent powerful legislators to prison for lengthy terms. I pled guilty to my part, cooperated with federal authorities and served seven months of a one-year sentence.
“Aided by an outpouring of written support from numerous civic, religious and elected leaders, I recently petitioned the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to restore my civil and political rights.
“The board investigated my community involvement and acts of atonement and in near-record time issued an order that stated in part: ‘Therefore, pursuant to Article IV, Section II, Paragraph II (a) of the Constitution of the State of Georgia, it is hereby ordered that the civil and political rights to serve on a jury, run for and hold public office, and serve as a notary public, lost as a result of the above state conviction(s) and sentence(s) and imposed prior thereto, be and each are hereby restored...’
“Subsequently, before a large group of friends and neighbors, I submitted my papers to the Rome City Clerk offering for election to the city commission. A representative of the Rome News-Tribune was present and I (gave) her details of my record and the action of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. I have faith that, like my wife, our community believes in second chances.
“However, since offering my candidacy, a provision of the prior Article II of the state Constitution with which I was not familiar has been raised as an issue to bar my candidacy. In addition to the requirement that rights must have been restored, Article II requires that at least 10 years must have elapsed since completion of my sentence. That will occur within several months.
“Several highly respected attorneys have advised that valid legal arguments could be presented that I should be permitted to continue my campaign.
“My sole purpose is to serve my community, especially its children, in any way I can and that in no way contribute to strife and division because of this provision. My concern and love for this community far outweighs any personal ambition for public office and I serve a God who is not the author of confusion.
“Therefore, I have withdrawn as a candidate for Rome City Commission.
“I will be eternally grateful for the confidence expressed and pledges of support I have received from across this community during the past few weeks and hope to have the opportunity to serve in an official capacity in the near future.
“I will continue to serve this community in whatever capacity I can.”
A total of 10 other candidates have qualified for the Rome City Commission election slated for Nov. 5 for Wards 1 and 3.
For Ward 1 are incumbents Sundai Stevenson, Milton Slack and Bill Irmscher, as well as newcomers Mark Cochran and James “Jim” Bojo.
For Ward 3, incumbents Bill Collins and Craig McDaniel are vying to keep their seats against Bonny Askew, J.J. Walker Seifert and Jamieson Palmer.
Rome is divided into three wards, with three seats in each ward for a total of nine commissioners. Commissioners in Ward 2 are not up for election this year; their terms run through 2021.