“When he qualified, he vacated his city council position as a matter of law unless he can point to a specific provision that says otherwise,” said Russ Willard, communications director for state Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker’s office.
“I regret the loss of my seat on the Rossville City Council due to my qualifying for the Walker County school board,” Moore said Tuesday in a prepared statement. “I appreciate the opportunity of representing the citizens of Rossville and, certainly, I will remain involved in our city’s interests.”
On Tuesday morning, officials were uncertain whether Moore could disqualify himself from the school board race and thereby retain his council seat.
“It's a law and you have to enforce it, but I'm not sure it's really constitutional,” Rossville city attorney John Davis said.
Davis said he sees Moore’s only recourse as vacating his council seat and running for school board unless he challenges the law’s constitutionality, possibly all the way up to the state Supreme Court.
Rossville’s charter provides for “a special election upon a vacancy in office unless it’s within three months of the end of term,” Davis said.
“We have many qualified Rossville citizens who can join the fine men who currently serve on the Rossville City Council,” Moore said.
Moore, whose most recent council term began this year, has served more than 10 years on the council.
Moore qualified Wednesday, June 19, as a Democrat for the Post 2 school board seat to succeed Charles Helton, who will not seek reelection in November. Moore will square off against Rossville law enforcement officer Edwin C. Stevens Sr. in the Aug. 20 primary election.
A spokesman for Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox’s office said Moore gave up his council seat by qualifying for another elective office.
Davis said he also believes Moore relinquished his council position by qualifying for the school board.
“I looked at this Constitutional provision, and it’s pretty explicit,” Davis said. “I don’t see a whole lot of room for ambiguity there, and I also don’t know of any statute that authorizes somebody to hold both of those particular offices.”
“I know that somewhere in the city ordinances there is a prohibition on holding multiple offices,” he said. “Of course, the Constitution governs everybody in the whole state.”
Moore said he agreed that the law is clear and will comply, adding “I pride myself on being an honest person.”
According to Article II, Section II, Paragraph V of the Georgia Constitution, an individual cannot hold two elective offices. Any elected state, county or municipal official vacates that office upon qualifying in a general primary or general election or special primary or special election for another state, county or municipal elective office. The post is also vacated if the official qualifies for the U.S. House of Representatives or Senate if the term of the office qualified for begins more than 30 days before the expiration of the present term of office.
“The Rossville city charter would not affect the school board position because that’s a county position,” Willard said.
Rossville Mayor Johnny Baker, who was attending a Georgia Municipal Association convention in Savannah, could not be reached for comment