Brewer files appeal to be on ballot

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 5, 2000

Dean Brantley, a clerk in the Warren County Circuit Clerk’s Office, accepts an appeal by Johnny Brewer, who is seeking to have his name placed on the Nov. 7 ballot as a Republican candidate for Warren County Election Commission District 1. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

A circuit court will decide if Johnny Brewer’s name will appear on the November general election ballot in the District 1 Warren County Election Commission race.

Brewer filed in Warren County Circuit Court this morning to appeal a decision two weeks ago by Warren County supervisors who rejected his application to be a candidate in the Nov. 7 election. Citing a failure to qualify with the Chancery Clerk’s Office in a timely manner, supervisors said on Sept. 19 that Brewer, a former chairman of the Warren County Republican Committee, could not be a candidate.

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Brewer appeared in the Warren County Circuit Clerk’s Office 30 minutes before closing time on deadline day and, as candidates traditionally have done, left his petition there. Mississippi law, however, says the application must be time-stamped in the Chancery Clerk’s Office before the deadline.

Because the deadline day was a Friday, Brewer’s petition was not passed to the chancery clerk and stamped there until the following Monday, Sept. 11. It then was up to the five supervisors two Democrats, two Republicans and one independent to decide if the application was valid.

Though other Election Commission candidates also had filed in the Circuit Clerk’s Office on the same deadline day, Brewer’s was the only one disqualified.

“In my mind, that’s selective,” Brewer said this morning.

Both Warren County circuit judges, Isadore Patrick and Frank Vollor, are expected to recuse themselves from the case, leaving the Mississippi Supreme Court to appoint a special judge to hear the appeal, said Brewer’s attorney, Wren Way.

“It’s going to be quick, but I don’t know when,” Way said.

After meeting at Way’s Locust Street office this morning, Brewer walked the block to the courthouse. Along the walk, he was stopped by supporters.

“Hey, Brewer, are you going to straighten those folks out?” one man asked.

“I’m going to try,” Brewer replied from across the street.

All of the other eight candidates in the Election Commission races filed at the Circuit Clerk’s Office before filing with the Chancery Clerk’s Office.

Three of those filed on the same day, the latest one two hours before Brewer.

Normally, election commissioners are responsible for certifying candidates in all county elections. But in Election Commission races, by statute, supervisors certify candidates.

If Brewer is successful in his appeal, he will face incumbent Lena Corbin in the faceoff for the District 1 seat. It was not known if the elections would have to be postponed or what would be done about absentee ballots, which are already being accepted in the Circuit Clerk’s Office.

“I just don’t know what the answer to that will be,” Brewer said.

“If the absentee ballots will make a difference (in the election), then it could be important,” Brewer said.

In a similar case in Simpson County, a hearing began today in a dispute over the ballot for election commissioners. The printing of ballots there was delayed by a circuit court until the dispute over who qualified in that race is resolved.

A suit was filed there to get four candidates’ names on the Nov. 7 ballot after they were rejected by Simpson County supervisors . Like Brewer, the four Democrats filed qualifying papers Sept. 8 with the circuit clerk, rather than the chancery clerk.

“There is a distinct difference there,” Brewer said. “There was no favoritism shown.”

County supervisors there voted to put on the ballot only the names of the election commission candidates who qualified with the chancery clerk. Three candidates who qualified with the chancery clerk were approved as candidates, leaving two districts with no candidates.

In a 1999 special election for the Warren County District 3 Election Commission spot, candidate LaSondra Williams also waited until the last minute to file her petition to be on the ballot. Her petition was filed in the Circuit Clerk’s Office on the day of the deadline, and it was not confirmed by the Chancery Clerk’s Office until four days later. Nine days after the initial filing, supervisors accepted her petition, and she was elected weeks later.