A Dallas mayor candidate will see her campaign end next week if she decides not to appeal a judge’s expected ruling upholding an election board’s decision to disqualify her from being a candidate in the Nov. 5 city election.
Superior Court Senior Judge Grant Brantley of Cobb County indicated this week after a Monday, Sept. 30, hearing he will not alter the Paulding County Board of Elections’ decision to disqualify Narda Konchel as a candidate for not living in the city long enough to legally hold the office, said attorney Mason Rountree.
Rountree, who represented Konchel in the appeal hearing, said he wanted to see the contents of Brantley’s ruling before advising her on her next step in the process.
However, if Brantley upholds the board’s ruling as expected, Rountree said Konchel would have to decide if she wanted to continue a potentially “costly” appeals process, starting with the state Court of Appeals.
Konchel had appealed to the Paulding Superior Court after the election board on Sept. 11 voted to uphold incumbent Mayor Boyd Austin’s challenge to Konchel’s Dallas residency.
The city’s charter states the mayor must have lived in Dallas for at least one year before qualifying to be a candidate for the job.
Austin, who is seeking a seventh term, said Konchel could not prove she had lived in a converted residential area in a Main Street commercial building’s basement area for the required amount of time before she qualified as a candidate on Aug. 19 — a claim Konchel disputed.
Rountree said he respected Brantley’s decision but did not agree with it.
He said 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.
Konchel also had to show evidence to the elections board that she was a resident “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is a higher burden of proof than it should have been in such a case, he said.
Austin said he was “very pleased” with Brantley’s expected ruling.
“The decision of the elections board was unanimous to disqualify her, and acting within the confines of the law, the judge rejected her appeal,” he said.
“I believe in the rule of law, and knew from the start that she did not meet the strict charter wording regarding qualification,” he said.
“I could not take action until she had qualified, and I followed state law in filing a challenge to her candidacy. I presented evidence, in the form of exhibits, that clearly stated the basis for my challenge.
“Rather than prosecuting the matter in the media, I suggest everyone should read the transcript and review evidence to understand the basis for the board’s unanimous decision, and the judge’s ruling,” Austin said.
Austin said he knew of two others who considered running in the election for mayor but neither lived inside the city limits and withdrew their required paperwork.