Greg Smith will appear on the November ballot for Nelsonville City Council after the Athens County Board of Elections denied a Sept. 13 protest by Council to remove Smith on the basis that he is not a continuous Nelsonville resident.
Tony Brooks, Deputy Director of the Athens County BOE, said the board denied the protest due to a missed deadline. Brooks said protests related to the November ballot had to be submitted by Aug. 20, and Nelsonville City Council did not submit its protest until Sept. 13.
As the Messenger previously reported, Nelsonville City Council voted to remove Smith from Council – for a third time – on Sept. 2, after finding he was not a continuous resident of the city, but rather lived in neighboring Washington County. The most recent removal occurred after Smith’s petition was validated by the BOE, and after the deadline to protest.
Brooks said he met with Nelsonville City Council President Tony Dunfee and Council member Dan Sherman on Sept. 15 to discuss the protest filed by Dunfee on Council’s behalf.
Although Smith’s residency has been an ongoing subject of controversy throughout the year, Brooks said the BOE validated Smith’s petition for inclusion on the ballot as it would any other. Smith’s petition listed a valid Nelsonville address, according to Brooks.
“We don’t contest that, and we’re not somebody that determines where somebody resides,” Brooks stated.
Dan Sherman said he was disappointed that Smith will continue to appear on the ballot despite his removal from Council.
“It’s sad – sad for the City of Nelsonville,” he said.
Smith’s first two removals from Nelsonville City Council, in February and June, also concerned his place of residence. Both times, amid legal wrangling, Council later rescinded their decision and restored Smith to Council without explanation.
In July, the Messenger reported that Smith filed a federal lawsuit against other Council members as well as members of the Nelsonville Police Department, alleging, among other issues, that his constitutional right to due process had been violated.
The controversy over Smith’s place of residence began early this year, amid growing concern surrounding Smith’s financial ties with a Washington County family.
This followed on the heels of a previous controversy, in which Council members called on Smith to resign after screenshots posted to social media showed Smith’s use homophobic and racist language in reference to the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, as the Messenger reported.
Nelsonville City Council President Tony Dunfee declined to comment about the recent attempt to protest Smith’s inclusion on the November ballot.
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Dani Kington is the assistant editor of The Athens Messenger.