Reeves gets 353 votes despite challenge|[12/05/07]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Fred Reeves needed one vote to win Port Gibson’s general election for mayor Tuesday, but got 353 as his supporters seemed to want to make their choice clear.

The city native won the right to be the only candidate after polling a majority of votes cast in the Nov. 13 Democratic Primary, but in the days after the tally, two-term incumbent Mayor Amelda Arnold, who polled 192 primary votes, filed a challenge to his residency.

Monday morning, the town’s election commission, headed by Delores Mack, accepted Arnold’s contention that Reeves did not meet the legal test of being a Port Gibson resident and ordered his name off ballots.

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Monday afternoon, Reeves and his attorney obtained a court order for Reeves’ name to be on the ballot. According to court documents from Claiborne County Circuit Court, Judge Lamar Pickard issued a temporary restraining order against the commission.

“This would cause irreparable harm to Fred D. Reeves Jr., by preventing him from being elected to the office for which he is running as candidate, especially since he is running unopposed,” the document, signed by Pickard, states. No independent or Republican candidates filed for the $40,000-per-year post, making the primary win tantamount to election to a four-year term starting in January.

Arnold, represented by Vicksburg attorney Omar Nelson, said she would appeal Pickard’s order. The two-term mayor said contends Reeves provided false documents to prove his residency in Port Gibson and said the fact he had homestead exemption in Illinois in 2006 was further proof that he was not eligible to run in the municipal election.

Reeves, who had a career in Illinois, said he has moved back to his home town and that his voting records make clear he meets the requirement of being “a qualified elector” to seek the municipal office. Separately, a spokesman with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office said the fact that a candidate has homestead in a different state doesn’t necessarily disqualify him. Also, while Mack said the commission was in contact with state elections officials, a state spokesman said that office had not been contacted for guidance.

One race was contested on Tuesday’s ballot. Unofficial results this morning showed Democrat Marvin Ratliff took a win as Ward 4 alderman with 81 votes over Republican challenger Bob Tinsley’s 50. Ratliff was the winner of the Democratic nomination with 93 votes over Charles Stewart’s 43 in the primary.

Unopposed for new terms were Ward 1 Alderman Eddie Walls Jr., who received 61 votes; Ward 2 Alderman Vera Johnson, 35 votes; Ward 3 Alderman Kenneth Davis, 32 votes; Ward 5 Alderman Leslie Case, 75 votes; and Ward 6 Alderman Michael White, 21 votes.