The heads of the New Hanover County Board of Elections and the county Republican Party will be present at the board of commissioners regular meeting Monday to field questions concerning Melissa Gott’s residency.
Gott, a local attorney and former planning board chairwoman, was named by the GOP as the candidate for the board’s fifth open seat, vacated by Ted Davis Jr. in September.
The board of elections received a complaint that Gott is not a permanent resident of New Hanover County from her neighbor, Carolyn Caldwell.
Gott’s permanent address is listed with the board of elections as 602 Chestnut St., also the Gott Johnson Law Firm address.
“In a nutshell we’re not really anywhere with the process,” elections director Marvin McFadyen said Tuesday, Oct. 9. “She’s still a registered voter with us and I expect her to be.”
The topic was discussed in detail at a special meeting held Friday, Oct. 5, when the board was expected to name its selection for the seat.
Gott has been registered in New Hanover County since 2003 and has been voting in the county since 2004. Her husband, William Johnson, is currently a registered voter in Brunswick County where the couple also owns a home.
“There are families and individuals that own more than one home and sometimes this can be a situation,” McFadyen said. “In regards to Melissa, we do not see any irregularities. She’s been registered here the entire time.”
The GOP is standing by its decision and returned the information requested back to the commissioners, chairwoman Rhonda Amoroso said.
“She has already been certified as a resident of New Hanover County from the board of elections,” Amoroso said Monday, Oct. 8. “The only thing that you saw was from unsubstantiated complaints, handwritten, that was not a sworn testimony, sworn affidavit and was from a disgruntled neighbor. … We have a lot going on with the election so I’d like this thing to just move along and be done with, get back to focusing on what I need to do.”
When the board of elections receives a challenge, the burden of proof is on the complainant.
“We get complaints a lot, but whether or not they make it to the level of being challenged is another story,” McFadyen said. “Residency is one of those debated topics, has been with time and history. It’s a hard thing to prove that someone’s not living where they state they are.”
McFadyen said he had not seen a change of residence request from Johnson, Gott’s husband, but said it could be around.
“If I was a betting man, I would say I’m probably going to get one,” he said.