ALAMO, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – An Alamo mayoral candidate had his residency challenged. Officials ruled he was eligible to run, but voters are questioning the decision.
Stephen Keen has admitted to living outside of city limits, which is against the charter,
but claims to have an apartment in the city.
Keen has owned businesses in Alamo for five years. He’s running against a former city council woman of more than 20 years, Pamela Lee.
The problem Alamo residents have, is where Keen lives.
“Residential doesn’t mean you go there just to sleep. It means that you live there. You registered as a voter there. That is your homestead exemption,” Alamo voter and candidate for city council Patricia Woodard said.
According to Alamo’s charter, candidates must live in the city for 12 months. The Registrar’s Office challenged Keen’s residency, because he lives outside of the city in Wheeler County. But Monday, Keen was ruled eligible.
“His homestead exemption is on his house in the county, but that will not stand up in court. We can’t just solely deny him on that code,” Alamo Superintendent of Elections Sheila Cheek said.
Keen says his apartment is in the back of his hardware business, “Hitch and Post,” and that he occasionally lived in for 12 months.
“Now I wasn’t there every single night. Nobody lives in their home every single night, but the nights I was there I’ve worked from usually 5 in the morning and I don’t stop until 8, 8:30, sometimes 9 at night,” Keen said.
For proof of residency, Keen showed past electric bills, but voters say they don’t believe him.
“It’s not a residential property anyways. It’s a commercial property,” Woodard said.
Keen says Alamo is his home now. He just bought a house and moved his family in the city.
The City Council has two weeks to appeal the residency decision to the Superior Court.
If elected as mayor, Keen says he will make sure Alamo is not adulterated anymore. His opponent Lee says she will add a grocery store and youth programs.
The mayor’s seat has been vacant since January, when former mayor Debbie Fountain resigned after being found not guilty of mishandling money.