All three Democratic candidates running for Douglas County Solicitor General mixed and mingled with residents last Tuesday night at Blu Rose Art Bistro during a "Chat and Chew" event. The event came not long after Christina Peterson challenged the residency of fellow Democrat Rudy Harris and the bad blood between the two was still evident. Peterson, Harris and Sonya Compton will face off in the May 22 Democratic primary election, with the winner moving on to take on incumbent Republican Solicitor General Matthew Krull in November.
“As far as the event’s concerned, I actually think it still went over well,” event organizer David Good said. “Hopefully the candidates that were involved were able to talk to the different citizens that were there to be able to explain what was it that they were seeing or what was it that they were hearing.”
The outside tension between the candidates became public when candidate Christina Peterson challenged the Douglas County residency of fellow candidate Rudy Harris before the county Board of Elections and Registration. Harris bought a new home in Fayette County but rented a property in Douglas County in November 2017. In the hearing, the Board of Elections ruled that the one-year residency rule in regards to the solicitor general position doesn’t apply because the position is of a judicial nature. On April 25, Superior Court Judge William “Beau” McClain is scheduled to judicially review the Board of Elections' ruling.
“I’m a resident and I meet all of the residency requirements,” Harris said shortly before Tuesday night’s event began. “Whether it’s the 12-month requirement or the requirement for the positions of judicial nature. I was pleased with the decision, I believe it was the correct decision. Ultimately, I believe the Superior Court will make the same decision.”
In addition to Peterson's challenge of Harris' residency, there have been other sparks in the race between the two candidates. Harris recently publicized a video of him leaving a campaign flyer on a resident’s door hanger. Right below the video of Harris was a video of Peterson appearing to make a pulling motion, before running from the door.
“She has stolen the property of my campaign — a criminal offense,” Harris said of the video. “She has stolen her own dignity. And worst of all, she has stolen from you, the citizens of Douglas County. … So, I am calling for Christina Peterson to withdraw her candidacy and leave the race to myself and my remaining opponent.”
An anonymous email was also sent out to some county residents with documents from a lawsuit that two homeowners in the Silver Creek Ranch neighborhood in Lithia Springs filed against Peterson on March 23. Peterson called the lawsuit “frivolous” and said that all of the attacks that have come out against her are just attempts at distracting voters from the actual issues in the county.
“To dispel all of the rumors, anything that you’ve heard about me that’s anything lacking good character is false,” Peterson said.
Peterson also denied taking down any of Harris’ flyers.
“The facts are he had no signs on any of those doors that I went to,” Peterson said. “And the person that was with me, she’s my pastor’s daughter ... we wouldn’t do that. We’ve been running a clean race this whole entire race. We continue to run a clean race, even when I’m being attacked by my opponent. We continue to run a clean race and don’t spread any lies or rumors about anyone.”
Tuesday’s event also marked the first time many county citizens got a chance to hear from the other candidate, Sonya Compton, who has kept a low profile throughout the race.
“Well, No. 1, my focus is on the citizens of Douglas County and what I can do,” Compton said. “I’m going to be positive, tell them what I can do and that is my focus. … I have not been on Facebook and a lot of places and I just want to get my message out for the citizens of Douglas so they know what I stand for and plan to do if I’m elected.”
The event included about a 23-minute question and answer panel with all three candidates, which went without confrontation, according to Good.
“The outside noise is still there, but at least for that hour, two hours, [citizens] were actually able to hear from the candidates themselves,” Good said.
Krull, who has no opposition in the Republican primary, will get his chance to speak to the citizens during a "Chat and Chew" at the Blu Rose Art Bistro, located at 6774 Broad St., this Tuesday, April 17 at 6:30 p.m.