Update: Groups seeks recall for Fairmount council member
by Susan Kirkland
A group of residents trying to oust Fairmount City Council Member Linda Sledge Johnson obtained enough signatures to get a hearing with a Superior Court judge on the matter.

According to the to the application for recall (click here to view the pdf),Johnson is accused of "behavior unbecoming of a city councilman (with) city employee resulting in her resigning. Misuse of donated items for 2008 Mayors Motorcade. Continued harassment to businesses (sic) resulting in lost revenue for the city; including personal problems (with) business (sic) owners. Has not paid '08 county taxes as of 1-5-09. Sued city for atty. fees resulting from a previous suit which resulted in city taxpayers having to pay atty. fees for both suits."

Shirlee A. Boots, of Fairmount signed as the petition chairperson. A message left on her work voicemail was not returned.

Johnson said that the action is a personal vendetta.

"I strongly deny any and all of the allegations made against me. I have done the best to my ability to serve the citizens of Fairmount," said Johnson.

According to the Gordon County Tax Commissioner's Web site, Johnson has been paying on her 2008 taxes per an arrangement she made in August 2009 with the office.

She said the issue involved property on which she had appealed the tax value.

"It took until August to resolve it and I went (once it was resolved) to make payment arrangements," said Johnson.

In 2008, Johnson sued the city for the right to operate a mini-storage facility, one of several businesses she owns, on her property. Residents were opposed to the building because it obstructed the view of Fairmount City Hall. The judge ruled in Johnson's favor and eventually awarded her attorney fees for the case.

Johnson said this effort to oust her stems from people she's made angry.

"It's a waste of taxpayer money," she said.

The judge will decide if there is sufficient evidence to warrant a Petition of Recall. This petition requires 30 percent of active, registered voters currently living in Fairmount (they must also lived there during the time of the original election) or 100 signatures, whichever is less, according to Shea Hicks, chairperson of the county board of elections.

Validity of signatures is the key point, said Hicks.

As seen during Monday's meeting, some signatures were tossed out because they either didn't live in the city during the 2007 election, no longer live in the city, their signatures did not match their voter registration card, or someone signed for them and the registrar's office could not verify it.

If they get enough signatures, then the city will have to pay for a special election to determine if Johnson is removed from office. If 50 percent, plus one, of the voters agree, then another special election will have to be held to fill her seat.

"It would save the taxpayers money to just have someone run against me in the next election," said Johnson, who is up for election in 2011.

Click here for a copy of Johnson's delinquent tax payment contract.
© 2010