Thoughts on the denial of Ruel Joyner’s candidacy for Savannah City Council

I’ve been inside Ruel Joyner’s apartment on the second floor of 24e. Earlier this year, I interviewed him in his capacity as Downtown Business Association president; we met downstairs in the store, took the elevator up to the second level, and went inside the apartment. I didn’t know it was there, but it was, and obviously has been for a long time.

So I was a little shocked to read this morning that the very existence of that apartment was called into question and cited by Clerk of Council Dyanne Reese as one of the reasons to deny Joyner’s claim of city residency and thus disqualify him from running for the 1st district seat on Savannah’s City Council.

From today’s Savannah Morning News:

Reese wrote that Joyner provided nothing to substantiate they live in the apartment, nor any documentation to prove there is an apartment. There are no separate water or utility bills for an apartment, nor did Joyner produce any cable bills, phone bills or other documentation, including the number of rooms or square footage it has.

So if she doubted its very existence, why couldn’t Reese have sent someone over to ask to see the apartment? When I was president of the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home and managing a residential apartment on the ground floor, two — count ’em, two — city officials went to inspect it when our tenant tried to get a residential parking permit from Parking Services. If the city bureaucracy can harass a resident like that (she had ample documentation of her residence there as well as a letter from me as her landlord), surely they can send someone to a building in the midst of downtown to see if there’s an apartment there.

And as for phone bills and cable bills, is the Clerk of Council (should the Clerk of Council even be supervising elections when she works with the incumbents routinely?) aware that the times they have a-changed?

I haven’t had a home phone in about seven years. I could tell T-Mobile I lived anywhere and manage my account entirely online. Phones are no longer tied to places as much as people.

And if I had a business like 24e, which obviously has its own internet connections and other utilities, would I establish separate accounts for all my bills for my own residence on the premises?

I don’t know how much time Joyner and his family actually spend in that apartment, and I don’t know if he in fact meets clear legal standards for residency, but the inclusion of such spurious arguments in the ruling is more than disappointing. He met the requirements to get onto the ballot in the first place, and he will be appealing the ruling in court. Let’s hope the ruling will be clearly based in the law.

I’m a resident of the 1st district, and I’d welcome Joyner to the race even if there are some gray areas legally in terms of residency. His family has owned a building on Broughton Street for many years, he runs a successful business there, and he has proven himself deeply concerned about Savannah’s future.

3 comments for “Thoughts on the denial of Ruel Joyner’s candidacy for Savannah City Council

  1. C Nowicki
    October 8, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    City Hall is scared of the leadership changes that are coming in November. They will do anything to protect themselves. The City of Savannah is a absolute mess. We need to get a complete new slate of leadership in these leadership positions and put Savannah on the right track.

  2. Sonya Tolbert
    October 9, 2011 at 4:23 am

    I can confirm that there is indeed an apt at 24e. The apt. was built many years ago when the building was bought. My dad and mom often slept there many nights after working long hours downstairs to make a living. After my dad became disabled and unable to work he and my mother quit occupying the apt. Ruel grew up in the business world and took the challenge on to change the business into a classy and upscale Interior Decor and Homefurnishing unlike any Savannah has ever seen. Now, Ruel is the one that works those long hours and in order to spend quality time with his family they often live in the apt upstairs. It has a bedroom that has changed over the years with mattresses,quilt to satin spreads,oak to modern style headboards,and now a crib for his baby. The bathroom includes a shower, sink, toilet, and even hairspray, toothbrush ,and deodorant.The living room which once had a large table even conference table that my dad sat at now has toys of all sorts, and a small kitchen with refrigerator, food, and cooking appliances. So, the question is if there is an apt right? Well, I say that sounds like an apt to me. Maybe, a mansion to some. The City has made a shameful decision and unjust. I think we all know why. So, I say Appeal Ruel and then the beautiful face of Savannah can again glow with her dignity. Let the people of Savannah decide who they want in District 1. It was unethical and a conflict of Interest for this decison to had been made by Reese. The City should had recognized this issue!

  3. ASD
    October 9, 2011 at 12:56 pm


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