Atlanta's top elections official said he won't recuse himself from the residency challenge case involving a candidate for the District 3 Atlanta City Council special election set for March 19.

The election is needed to fill the seat after Councilman Ivory Lee Young Jr., 56, died of cancer in November.

Atlanta Municipal Court Clerk Foris Webb III, who oversees the city’s elections, was asked to recuse himself from the case involving candidate Matthew Charles Cardinale because of his involvement with Atlanta elections.

But Webb said he denied Cardinale’s request to recuse himself, adding he has the authority to handle it.

“The city charter designates the municipal clerk as the municipal election superintendent, and the state election code authorizes the municipal election superintendent to challenge upon his or her own motion the qualification of any candidate," Webb said.

Cardinale is one of 10 candidates who qualified for the race Jan. 23 through 25, though one hopeful, Patricia "Granny P" Crayton" has been disqualified due to a lack of valid petition signatures. She has endorsed Cardinale in the election.

Cardinale said he meets the requirements of living in the district for at least a year prior to qualifying (Jan. 23, 2018), but did not reside in the same home the entire time.

Cardinale has lived in District 3’s Hunter Hills community on Bernard Street since Feb. 14, 2018. From Jan. 14 to Feb. 14, 2018 (31 days), he lived in an Airbnb-rented apartment in Atlantic Station on 16th Street. When the two residencies are added together, they total just over a year in the district, he said.

“I received a letter of notification from … Webb on (Jan. 29), and it stated he would be filing a complaint, a challenge, and that there was going to be an attached challenge. However, there was no attachment,” Cardinale said. “When I went down and asked for a copy of the challenge, he came down and was hot and bothered and said there was no attachment.

“The letter does not state the basis for his assertion that it does not appear that I satisfied the residency requirement. We don’t know what his issue is. We don’t know if it’s a question of law, a question of fact, whether more evidence is needed. I am scrambling in the dark to cover all of our bases. We have a lot of due process concerns.”

Cardinale said a hearing in scheduled for Feb. 13.

Webb said he informed Cardinale of the residency challenge Jan. 23 and could not provide more information until the hearing.

“To elaborate further prior to his scheduled hearing date would not be proper nor considerate of his due process,” he said.

A special runoff election, if needed and very likely given the number of candidates, will be held April 16. For more information on the special election, visit https://bit.ly/2T08nf8.

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