Mary Norwood says she’s still in Fulton race

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Mary Norwood says she’s still in the race for Fulton County Commission chair, despite filing her paperwork and filing fee several hours after the 12 p.m. deadline on Friday.

Norwood ended her silence on the confusion surrounding her campaign with a statement posted to her Facebook page and website Saturday evening. That came after more than 24 hours of media reports that Norwood’s campaign was in question after filing her nomination paperwork hours after the deadline published on the website of the Georgia Secretary of State.

On Friday, I filed to run as an Independent candidate for Fulton County Commission Chair. Barry Garner, Director of Registration and Elections, was present when I submitted the necessary paperwork and filing fee of $1,251.45.

We have been building tremendous momentum in these last two weeks of gathering signatures. We are seeing support from every part of Fulton County. As of today, we have more than 15,000 signatures from individuals ranging in age from 18 to 90 and from both major political parties and many other backgrounds. This campaign is about the right to have ballot access and giving voters a choice for reform in Fulton County. We are on track to have the required number of valid signatures to present on July 13th.

Running as an independent candidate is a very ambitious undertaking. Financially speaking, this effort is costing nearly 100 times more than the typical candidate filing fee of $1,251.45. Achieving the necessary 23,000 signatures from registered Fulton County voters will be historic. It is the right thing to do to bring an independent viewpoint into this race. The Board of Registration and Elections will review my filing and my petitions and make a final decision as to whether or not I acquire ballot access.

The campaign statement makes no mention of Norwood filing the paperwork after the deadline, nor does it address questions about what that might mean for her race. The five-member Fulton County Board of Registration & Elections is scheduled to meet July 13, the same day of the deadline for Norwood to submit the nearly 23,000 signatures she needs to get on the November ballot.

Also Saturday, Norwood told CBS Atlanta that “there was some confusion about the hour” of the deadline on Friday. Norwood said that the campaign missed the 12 p.m. deadline because in past campaigns — when she’s been the candidate of a political party, not an independent as she is running now — that the filing deadline was 5 p.m.

But the Georgia Secretary of State’s website includes 12 p.m. deadlines for political party candidates — one in April to declare their candidacy and another last Friday for all candidates to file a Notice of Candidacy.

“We were there on the day of filing and the director said to me that he will take all of my information to the board. They will make the final decision,” Norwood tells the TV station.

Now it’s up the Fulton County elections board to decide what to do — the same panel that offered advice to Norwood earlier in the campaign that ended up in court. It’s a bit ironic that Norwood finds herself in this political pickle.

She’s built her campaign for Fulton chair around the idea of bringing stronger and better organized leadership to what’s long been known as Fulton’s poorly managed bureaucracy. Yet the campaign misses — or ignores — a well-publicized deadline and when asked on Friday, a campaign spokesperson didn’t have a clue that anything was amiss.

The gay-friendly Norwood, who made support of LGBT issues a serious piece of her unsuccessful mayoral campaign, wants to unseat Chair John Eaves, who hasn’t been particularly vocal when it comes to LGBT issues.

Norwood announced her bid in April and since has trotted out her lesbian step-daughter and scores of LGBT supporters to help her gain the needed signatures. She’s been spotted at several gay events since she launched her bid, including the Atlanta Executive Network, Evening for Equality, AID Atlanta Honors and CHRIS Kids’ Premiere Party. She’s also been poolside and ponied up to a beer bust or two with the gays to bolster support.

Norwood’s campaign confusion came the same day that Eaves, who also attended last week’s Evening for Equality, came out in support of gay marriage. Norwood’s had that position for some time.

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