The first big battle of the election season in Columbia County involves two non-partisan candidates, a gutted mansion and couple of pieces of paper.
Tony Mundy is accusing Peggy Lichtenberg of not living in the home at 565 Chamblin Road - the address listed on her candidate paperwork, voter registration card and drivers license. Both the candidates - along with former Grovetown City Councilman Mark Devoti - are seeking the District 3 Columbia County Commission seat.
Mundy has taken his complaint to the county's Board of Elections, who plan to make a ruling on Lichtenberg's residency July 30.
"They are not a resident (of District 3), they are just a property owner," said Mundy, who lives at 6073 Dogwood Trail in Harlem.
At the center of the issue is the Chamblin Road home. According to county tax records, the 8,638-square-foot home - which was once owned by Georgia Regent Tim Shelnut - and surrounding 12 acres were purchased by Lichtenberg and her husband in March for $890,000.
Even if the family was living in the home, Mundy contends they had to have been there a year. He said the family still lives on High Hampton Drive in West Lake subdivision.
"We do not have good representation on the county commission," he said. "...We want representation from our district. We don't want representation from West Lake."
But Richard Lichtenberg - the candidate's husband - said the family does plan to live in the house. Once they purchased it, however, they found it to be almost uninhabitable. They've now torn out most of the interior walls and hope to have an extensive renovation completed by the end of the year.
"It's our intent to be buried out there somewhere," Mr. Lichtenberg said, adding the family also owns a couple of hundred acres - including Canterbury Trails Equestrian Center - around 565 Chamblin Road.
"I'd challenge Mr. Mundy to find anyone with a stronger investment in that area than we have," he said.
Plus, he said, local law requires only that a person live in the county - not specifically in the district - for 12 months before the election for local races.
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