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“When a citizen gives his vote to a man of known immorality, he abuses his civic responsibility; he not only sacrifices his own responsibility; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country.” ~Noah Webster

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Donald K. Dunlap, Jr. is a candidate for City Council in Locust Grove, GA. According to records obtained from Henry County Superior Court, in March 2007 Dunlap was arrested for Violation of Georgia’s Controlled Substance Act with intent to distribute. The arrest warrant states:

“Donald Kelder Dunlap, Jr. did commit the offense of VGCSA possession of Xanax with intent to distribute when on March 2, 2007, affiant had set up a controlled buy with the subject in the parking lot of Los Avinas Mexican Restaurant located at 235 Atlanta Street, McDonough, Henry County, GA. Subject showed up with approximately 120 Xanax pills in a clear plastic baggie.”

According to the final disposition, Dunlap pleaded guilty under Georgia’s Act for Probation for First Offenders to one count of felony possession with intent to distribute, and a second felony count of obtaining a controlled substance by theft. He was sentenced to five years probation, 60-120 days of Detention Center, a $500 fine, and restitution in the amount of $193.90.

Dunlap eventually petitioned for and received a discharge (Edit:corrected link) on June 4, 2012, which as a “First Offender” restored all of his “civil rights and liberties” including the right to hold elected office.

This is the second instance in this election cycle we’ve seen a candidate in Henry County with First Offender status for a serious crime.

The first was when McDonough City Councilman Rufus Amis, who’s is running for reelection, was brought before the Henry County Elections Board last months with a challenge to his eligibility.The Georgia Constitution states:

Article II, Section II, Paragraph III

“Persons not eligible to hold office. No person who is not a registered voter; who has been convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude, unless that person’s civil rights have been restored and at least ten years have elapsed from the date of the  completion of the sentence without a subsequent conviction of another felony involving  moral turpitude;”

Amis had previously pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for shooting his son – an offense for which he is still on probation – under the Georgia First Offenders Act. However, the  Henry County Elections Board found him eligible to continue his candidacy because First Offender status protects him from being considered “convicted”.

But, just because Rufus Amis was declared eligible to hold elected office doesn’t mean the citizens of McDonough must do so on election day. For Pete’s sake, the man admitted to shooting his own son.

And by the same token, just because the law says Don Dunlap, Jr. is eligible to hold elected office doesn’t mean the citizens of Locust Grove must disregard his past criminal actions. He’s an admitted drug dealer for crying out loud.

Surely, Henry County can do better.

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