It's almost like a little neighborhood feud.
A woman living just down the street from the 1091 Bolton Court address that long has been Zeph Baker's residence of record is challenging whether Baker lately has lived there long enough to qualify for the House District 132 seat he's now seeking.
Louise Crozier of 1052 Bolton Ave. hand-delivered an Aug. 19 letter to the Georgia Secretary of State's elections division saying that come election day, Nov. 4, Baker will not, as required by law, have been living in the house district for at least a year.
Baker, who on Aug. 20 changed his voter registration address with the local elections office from Bolton Court to 3525 Stratford Drive, said he just moved this summer, and is renting the Bolton Court house he owns to a tenant.
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His new home on Stratford Drive also is in House District 132, so he has never left the district, said Baker, who calls this residency question a "distraction" with which his opponent, incumbent state Rep. Calvin Smyre, wants to divert attention from the real issues voters face in this election.
Smyre's voter registration address is 1103 Glenwood Road — just about four blocks away from Baker's new home, and six blocks or so from the Bolton Court house that Baker still owns. So all the principals in this contest are right there together, in the neighborhoods just south of Macon Road behind the Columbus Public Library.
Called at home Tuesday, Crozier would say only that she had "information" indicating Baker didn't meet the residency requirement. She would not elaborate. She said Smyre was not involved in her challenging Baker's qualifications.
According to elections office records, Baker, 32, registered to vote in 1994, and with Bolton Court as his registration address, he has voted in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2006 and last February's presidential preference primary.
Smyre, 61, registered to vote with the Glenwood Road address in 1972 and has voted regularly ever since, with no change of address, according to election records. The Democrat has served in the House for 33 years.
Baker is running as an independent, having secured the signatures of nearly 1,000 supporters to qualify. He formally announced he had qualified on Aug. 14 — less than a week before before Crozier delivered her letter to the secretary of state.
State officials said no hearing on that challenge has been set.
Smyre could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday evening.