Carolyn Cosby, former head of the Canton T.E.A. Party, is running as an independent, though she must turn in signatures from about 6,000 registered county voters by July 8 to make it on the ballot Nov. 4, elections officials said.
The 63-year-old Ball Ground for resident says it won’t be a problem.
“The people of Cherokee County have nominated me for the office of chairman by overwhelming numbers,” Cosby said in a news release Friday morning. “Our campaign will surge pass the requirement of 5,982 signatures by week’s end.”
Cosby, a longtime critic of Ahrens, began collecting the signatures in late May, which must be verified by the county elections office.
Although she says it’s been successful, Cosby’s petition drive hasn’t been without its issues, as residents have complained of harassment from Cosby and her supporters at government buildings around the county. Cosby has also complained she’s been harassed, as has her husband, officials said.
The Cherokee Elections Office has also been told Cosby was employing minors to collect signatures, which some argue might not be legal. Cherokee elections supervisor Janet Munda said it appears to be a gray area, because the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office has seen the issue around the state and hasn’t challenged it.
Munda said the question has been raised as to whether a minor is legally able to sign the oath such petitioners have to sign, but she added she can’t really look into the issue until Cosby turns in the signatures.
“It’s nothing I want to charge the county to look at now,” Munda said Friday. “Everything is hearsay until they put it in my hands July 8. I don’t look at them until she submits them.”
Cosby said in an interview Friday she does have a 14- and 15-year-old collecting signatures, “but they’re my daughter’s children, my grandchildren. Their mother has given them permission and taking them with her.”
Asked what her opinion of whether they could sign the oath, Cosby said, “They certainly can swear to what they did.”
With the drive nearing its end, Cosby said the “real campaign” can get started.
“My opponent must answer for his record of big spending and big government,” she said in the news release. “His record of raising taxes during the worst recession of our country combined with his call for regional government that would hand over our transportation decisions to Atlanta does not meet with voter approval. Our citizens want less spending and limited government, and on that platform, I will run my campaign.”
Ahrens appears to remain confident in his campaign after easily beating challenger Jackie Archer, a former Holly Springs city councilwoman, in the May 20 primary. He said he doesn’t “put any credence” to Cosby’s allegations against him.
“I have the experience, the skills, the motivation, the management expertise to continue shaping the future of Cherokee County,” he said Friday afternoon. “I wonder what she would say if you ask her what the definition of raising taxes is. They never explain what they mean. They talk about stuff without knowing what they’re talking about.”
Cosby’s reference in the news release to regional government and letting Atlanta take over Cherokee’s transportation was about the failed “TSPLOST,” which would have imposed a 1 percent sales tax for transportation projects in metro Atlanta if approved by voters.
Ahrens supported the TSPLOST, but he said Thursday, “That went down in flames. And by the way, it had nothing to do with governance.”
The chairman has also disputed claims Cosby has made that he somehow had something to do with complaints about her and her supporters allegedly harassing people while they collect signatures at government buildings around the county.
On Thursday, Cosby and county officials reached a potential agreement that the petitioners could stand behind crowd control barriers in front of the Woodstock tax office, after Cosby threatened to sue. The agreement was the result of complaints Cosby and her supporters had been harassing people near the door, which Cosby denied as well.
Cosby attributed the complaints to a “concerted effort to thwart her campaign.”
Cherokee Tax Commissioner Sonya Little said Thursday morning the new arrangement seemed to be mostly working.
Little said she has been trying to keep in mind Cosby’s rights, but the situation was a disruption to business. She said she is in daily contact with a county attorney for guidance on the complaints.
“It’s every day,” Little said, adding that so much legal counselling is “absolutely” going to cost the county money.