Godwin recalled

Shawn Godwin

Councilman Godwin recalled from office; special election set for January 12

Blackshear Councilman Shawn Godwin (District 5) was recalled from office in a special recall election held Tuesday, December 1. Qualifying for a special election to fill the now vacant seat opens today, December 9, and runs through Friday, Dec. 11.

The special election will be held Tuesday, January 12. Early voting will be held Monday, December 21, 2020 - Friday, January 8, 2021 at the Board of Elections office on Nichols Street.

Fifty-three residents, representing 15.92 percent of District Five’s registered voters, cast a ballot in the recall election with 39 in favor of recalling Godwin and 14 opposed to the recall.

With just two machines to count, it took election officials approximately 15 minutes to certify the results after polls closed at 7 p.m. Twenty-six voters cast a ballot during two and half weeks of early voting held last month with

20 voting to recall Godwin and six voting against the recall. Another 27 voters cast a ballot last Tuesday with 19 in favor of the recall and eight opposed.

The room was quiet Tuesday night. Aside from The Times and election officials, just three Blackshear residents waited on results to be posted. One of those was Sharon Komanecky, the District Five resident who spearheaded a petition effort to have Godwin removed from office.

“Over the last six months, I have been grateful for the opportunity to represent District Five throughout the recall process. Even though I filed the petition, this effort was not solely my own. The residents of District Five, through an open and democratic process, ensured their voices were heard and demonstrated a commitment to the City of Blackshear and its future. I’m incredibly appreciative of the recall sponsors and all their hard work to see this process through to completion,” Komanecky told The Times after the election results were announced.

Godwin was not present at the elections’ office Tuesday night, but issued a statement after the results were announced as well.

“I would like to thank District Five for allowing me to represent you over the past year and a half. We were able to get a lot accomplished for a district that was often forgotten about,” Godwin said.  “Just know God has bigger plans.  When one door closes he opens another. I wish nothing but the best for the City of Blackshear.  I also stand by my word I was wrongly accused. I will walk away with my head held high.”

The election to recall Councilman Godwin followed certification of a petition calling for his removal from office in October. Komanecky and a group of petitioners organized their effort “on the grounds that he has participated in unlawful attempts to conduct city council meetings in violation of the Georgia Open Records Act; voted for and supported adding agenda items of significant public interest without providing notice to the public; denied citizens access to social media that was critical of his actions; made knowingly false and/or derogatory comments about other public officials; failed to perform duties when appointed to certain committee(s); conducted himself in a manner that gives reasonable basis for the impression that a person can improperly influence him or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of official acts.”

The petitioners secured 98 signatures, and all but three of those signatures were verified by Pierce County Elections Supt. Leah Ritch.

State law requires 30 percent of the registered voters sign a petition for recall in order for an election to be held. Eighty-nine signatures were needed in District Five to meet that mandate. Komanecky exceeded that measure by nine signatures, yet only 53 residents showed up to vote in the recall election  — just over half (54 percent) the number of those who signed Komanecky’s petition.

Blackshear Mayor Kevin Grissom has not addressed the recall election process previously, but following the announcement of results last week, did call for unity and reconciliation in the days ahead.

“People follow where leaders lead. Unfortunately in our world right now there is so much unrest, strife and discontent. My prayer for the City of Blackshear is that we would begin to put away our differences and move on to a brighter future. We have so much to be thankful for in our city, and I feel we have a very bright future ahead,” Grissom said. “There is a democratic process in place to help us move forward in difficult times. Now that we have come to the point we have, I pray for the citizens of Blackshear, and especially District Five, that God would intervene and place people He wishes to serve our city in position.”

Ritch was still tallying expenses from the recall election and could not provide a total cost to the city for holding the election last week. She did estimate the pending special election to fill the seat will cost more than the recall election.

Godwin took office in January 2020 to serve his first term in his own right after previously filling the unexpired term of longtime Councilman Jerry Dixon who died in office in 2019.