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Jesse Houle Wins Final Appeal, Will Take Commission Seat in January

Commissioner-elect Jesse Houle.

Commissioner-elect Jesse Houle cleared the final hurdle toward taking a seat on the Athens–Clarke County Commission when the Georgia Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Houle’s favor on Monday.

District 6 incumbent Jerry NeSmith won more votes in the June 9 election, but NeSmith had died in an accidental fall three days earlier. Although the situation would have led to a special election in most states, the ACC Board of Elections ruled that votes for a candidate who dies, withdraws or is disqualified before the election are void under Georgia law.

A group of NeSmith supporters—including his widow, Farol—sued, but the courts upheld ACC Attorney Judd Drake’s interpretation of the law.

Houle will start a four-year term in January. However, Houle still faces an opponent in the Nov. 3 election. Chad Lowery is seeking to finish out the last two months of NeSmith’s term.