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Candidate cleared to run in District 1
Homestead issue also is resolved
Brant Meadows meets with the Board of Elections on Thursday to discuss where he lives. - photo by Jennifer Sami
Brant Meadows is clear to run for the District 1 seat on the Forsyth County commission.

During a special called Board of Elections meeting Thursday, Meadows documented to officials that he is indeed a resident of the district in which he’s running.

His residency had been questioned in an e-mail from county resident Jerry Bowman to Barbara Luth, local elections supervisor.

The e-mail, which asked for an investigation into Meadows’ residency, stemmed from reports that the candidate had received homestead exemptions on two properties for the past seven years.

While one property is in District 5, it was determined Meadows’ primary residence is his Bennington Lane home, which is in District 1.

“That’s where I live,” Meadows said during the board’s hearing. “That’s where I sleep every evening.”

The elections board’s decision was the second time this week a local panel had reviewed Meadows’ residence and the homestead exemption issue.

Citing what it said had been a mistake, the Board of Tax Assessors recommended Tuesday that seven years worth of interest and penalties charged to Meadows when he resolved the homestead matter be waived.

Thursday, Meadows showed the board a letter from his neighbor, multiple bills addressed to him at Bennington Lane and pay stubs from the county for his service both on the county’s elections board and its planning commission.

Luth provided further documentation of District 1 residency, noting Meadows signed for a certified letter sent to the Bennington Lane address.
She also said both Meadows and his wife were registered to vote from there.

Member Doug Sorrells, who succeeded Meadows’ on the board of elections after he stepped down to run for commission, was not at the hearing.

But the other two board members, Gary J. Smith and Matt Blender, voted to confirm that Meadows is qualified to run in District 1.

“Since the sole issue before the board is whether Mr. Meadows’ intent was to have his primary residence within District 1… since the evidence indicated that in fact that was his intent, I move this board disallow the challenges to his candidacy and declare that Brant Meadows will be qualified for County Commission District 1,” Blender said.

The board’s decision was no surprise to Meadows, though he said he understood the need to “go through due process.”

“It’s what I expected to happen,” he said. “Now maybe we can begin to focus on the issues instead of the distractions.”

Meadows is running against Pete Amos in the July 20 Republican primary. The winner will advance to face Democrat Mary Chatfield in the Nov. 2 general election.

Incumbent Commissioner Charles Laughinghouse is not seeking re-election in the district, which covers much of western Forsyth and a portion of Cumming.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Board of Tax Assessors reviewed how it had approved a homestead exemption application in 1993 for Meadows’ home on Timber Lake Trail, in District 5.

While Meadows has since received an annual exemption on the home, the application showed no signature, making it invalid.

“An error happened and it should be fixed, regardless of where the error was or wherever that blame lies,” Tax Assessor Mary Kirkpatrick said.

While the board agreed Meadows should pay what he rightfully owed, Kirkpatrick said he shouldn’t have to pay a penalty for an error.

Tax Commissioner Matthew Ledbetter said Meadows paid nearly $2,700 to the county to make up for the seven years he’s received the additional homestead exemption. About $940 of that money was interest and penalties.

Kirkpatrick said the office won’t charge him back taxes for the exemption he was legally eligible to receive. Once the second homestead exemption on the Bennington Lane property was filed in 2003, however, Kirkpatrick said it’s only fair he paid that money back.

Kirkpatrick didn’t point a finger, but said she knows “everyone is going to look for someone to blame.”

“It was a mistake,” she said. “We’re simply saying let’s make it right.”