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July 18--  A candidate running for the Montgomery County Commission wonders why a candidate running for a Superior Court judgeship in North Georgia has been disqualified because he owes back taxes when her opponent in Montgomery County also owes back taxes but is getting a pass to run.

An administrative law judge disqualified Danielsville lawyer Chris Smith because he has $110,000 in tax liens against him.

Montgomery County Commission candidate Sharon Strickland says the same standard should apply to her opponent, incumbent County Commissioner John Carpenter who has state and federal tax liens of more than $330,000.

"In my case, the person was 12 years behind on taxes and has served four years as a public official and made no effort to clear up his tax problems.  In the Athens case, the person was only two years behind.  In the Athens case, I think the interpretation of the Constitution was correct and I wish the citizens of Montgomery County were afforded the same decision as the citizens of Athens," Stickland says.

Commissioner Carpenter notes Mrs. Strickland had ten days to appeal the decision of Probate Judge Ruby Nell Sanders and chose not to do so.

"I went to the hearing up there for Judge Sanders to make a ruling on it.  And I made a decision going up there that whatever decision she made I would live with it whether I could run or could not," Carpenter said.

Strickland contends Carpenter was elected four years ago because he had no opposition.  This time she says people have a choice.

"He slid into the office because he was unopposed.  I think people want better representation than that.  If other people are paying their taxes and doing right to keep our county and country afloat, they expect everybody to do their part," she said.

Carpenter says he doesn't want to comment on his tax status, but thinks he's done a good job.

"I've tried to do what's right for the voters of the whole county.  I have stood up for what I thought was right and I have tried to represent everybody equally and fair.  It's been a joy to serve and I think I've done a pretty good job and I'd just like to continue on if the people see fit to let me serve," he said.