Friday May 24th, 2024 10:22AM

Rhonda Wood sworn into Oakwood City Council after troubled election

By Caleb Hutchins Assistant News Director

A week after a scheduled swearing-in ceremony was called off amid an investigation into discrepancies with her election, Rhonda Wood was sworn in to the Oakwood City Council Monday night.

Wood, the wife of late Oakwood City Councilman Dwight Wood, whose death in September 2023 prompted the March 12 special election, now officially fills the Post 4 seat on the council.

She defeated Volley Collins by an 88-vote margin in the special election, however Hall County elections officials later said that 200 people who did not live in the city limits of Oakwood voted in the race. That prompted investigations at both the county and state level, and left Wood in limbo.

"I didn't have any interaction with the (Oakwood) elected officials. They weren't allowed to be in contact with Volley or myself," Wood said. "I just couldn't believe what was going on."

Wood was originally scheduled to be sworn in on April 2, but the city cancelled that meeting as Oakwood officials waited to hear if the election results would be challenged. City Manager B.R. White said officials remained in contact with the Georgia Secretary of State's Office, but has received limited information on the status of their investigation.

"Our attorney had contacted the Secretary of State's Office (prior to the scheduled April 2 meeting), but we had not received back any comments," White said. "In the process, our attorney did make contact with their attorney and write a letter, basically just stating that we planned on seating the winning candidate as stated by the elections office and we understood that if there's an error and something has to be re-done, then she will no longer have the seat."

Volley Collins did not ellect to challenge the results of the race in court within the allotted window after the election's certification.

Hall County elections officials released an internal investigation in late March saying that a series of circumstances including recent court-ordered congressional redistricting led to voters who did not live in the city receiving ballots that included the city council race, along with 22 people who did live in the city not having the race included on their ballots.

Wood said the issues were frustrating.

"I just hope that we don't have the same problem come the May election and the November election," Wood said.

Now that she is officially on the council, Wood said she's looking forward to serving the citizens of Oakwood.

"Once I get my feet wet, I just want to do more research on what the city needs," Wood said. "I want to keep it family-oriented."

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News, Election 2024
  • Associated Tags: Elections, hall county, oakwood, Oakwood City Council, hall county board of elections, Secretary of State's Office
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