Edwards calls land use attorney contribution to Sheffield “tainted money”

Shelia Edwards speaking at press conferenceShelia Edwards speaking at press conference at The Eddy at Riverview Landing (photo by Larry Johnson)

Shelia Edwards, a run-off candidate for the District 4 seat on the Cobb County Board of Commissioners called a contribution to her opponent Monique Sheffield from well-known Cobb County land use attorney Garvis Sams “tainted money.”

She made the charge at a press conference at the Eddy at Riverview Landing flanked by a number of her supporters including Cobb SCLC President Dr. Benjamin Williams and renters rights activist Monica DeLancy.

The specific criticism Edwards directed at Sams was his representation of the company running a waste transfer station located between Discovery Boulevard and the Chattahoochee River just south of Veterans Memorial Highway.

That company filed suit on the county in 2012 after being denied a permit to accept household waste.

Edwards had organized the community against the permit, and Garvis Sams was the attorney for the company during the controversy.

“This company had set up shop and was illegally accepting household waste and other noxious and hazardous materials next to our home and next to the Chattahoochee River,” Edwards said. “And when I say household waste, I’m saying anything you put in a trash can was coming over to our community.”

“We had no idea what could have been in there and what our families were exposed to,” she said. “We just know that it was something going wrong in our community.”

She said Sams applied for the Special Land Use Permit (SLUP) and attempted to get the company’s ability to accept the waste grandfathered in.

“It has come to our attention that this same waste station lawyer, Garvis Sams, has decided that he and his firm will pick our next commissioner for this area,” Edwards said. “To support this effort, Sams’s firm is the largest donor on the campaign report for my opponent to the tune of $3,000. $1000 that was reported in the Marietta Daily Journal just a couple of weeks ago, and $2000 that’s showing up on this disclosure report from from September of last year.”

“That’s tainted money because it elevated her over other candidates like Monica Delancy, like Elliot (Hennington), like Angela (Pressley), like all the other candidates because it gave her that early money to go ahead and get her signs out and get started. And that’s important. I feel it’s probably not illegal, but I feel like it’s improper,” Edwards said. “And I feel like the only reason they gave her that money is because they plan to come back. They plan to come back to try to get into our community.”

“So my thing is that our community is not for sale, our health is not for sale. Our children are not for sale, South Cobb and District 4 are not for sale,” Edwards said. “And again, I’m demanding that candidate Monique Sheffield, take those funds … that she received from those dubious people, from the people that want to put waste and concrete in our communities … and donate them to charity or to a place where they fight environmental racism.”

Sheffield’s response

The Courier reached out to Monique Sheffield for a response to Edwards’ comments, and she sent the following statement in an email:

There is no mistaking that we are in challenging times.  A war has been waged against mankind in the form of a global pandemic and people are looking to leaders to help them maintain a sense of normalcy.   What people are NOT looking for is dirty politics and smear campaigns. Voters are frustrated, fatigued, and offended by “old school politics” that use manipulation tactics to help candidates win elections.  

Unfortunately, the “manipulation” style of politics has entered my race.  There was a “straw-grasping” gathering that called my integrity into question by accepting a campaign donation from an attorney whom I have known for the past three years and worked alongside when I served on the Board of Zoning Appeals.  

While my opponent is attempting to manipulate people into believing that there was something nefarious about the donation, the opposite is true.  

Garvis Sams, a respected zoning attorney whom all the Commissioners know very well made an investment in me and my community as he understands that I have the temperament, experience, grace, and willingness to SERVE the residents District 4.  

The irony regarding this ridiculous claim is that the same attorney, Garvis Sams, was responsible for rezoning the location of the “tabloid-style” gathering (The Eddy) from industrial to a mixed-used development. Rezoning that area has piqued the interest of developers to invest in our community. So, thank you Garvis for your role in bringing us additional housing options, a local coffee shop, a brewery, an eatery, kayaking, an outdoor trail along the Chattahoochee, and an amphitheater to showcase local talent! 

Regarding disclosures, if you review my opponent’s disclosures, you will find that most of her donations are self-funded.  A campaign is self-funded because people do not have faith in the candidate and will not make a financial donation to their campaign, particularly if that candidate has run several times and have lost, which is the case with my opponent!   

The saying goes that if you cannot beat your opponent on platform and issues, then you make every attempt to discredit them. Clearly, that has been the strategy of my opponent.  A crocodile’s strength is in the water, but my opponent, sadly, believes that hers is in the mud.  The best way to clear away mud is to let it be and it will go away on its own!  

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