Reeves prepares for office, despite cloud of uncertainty|[12/21/07]

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 21, 2007

Fred Reeves, who took the nod as Port Gibson voters’ choice to lead the city as its new mayor, said Thursday he is making plans to take office in January, but has no idea what’s going on in the legal realm.

After the Democratic primary, two-term Mayor Amelda Arnold sought a restraining order to keep Reeves’ from appearing as the party nominee — and only candidate — on the general election ballot, saying he was not legally certified as a city resident. She won her case before the town’s election commission, but Circuit Judge Lamar Pickard ordered Reeves’ name on the ballot for the vote, in which he polled 353 ballots.

Three days later, court records show, an appeal was filed to the state Supreme Court, but how things stand there could not be determined.

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Arnold was represented by Vicksburg attorney Omar Nelson, who has not returned phone calls. She said she, too, is waiting to hear results.

“We’re still moving forward and hoping to hear something shortly,” she said.

One of Reeves’ attorneys, Joseph B. Moffett of Fayette, said he would not comment on pending cases. Another attorney, R.M. Truly of Fayette, did not have a working number. Reeves, however, said he hasn’t heard anything regarding the status of the appeal.

“I have no idea. We haven’t heard anything. We are in the dark,” he said. “They haven’t served us with any papers.”

A spokesman from the 22nd Circuit Court, where Pickard was said to be on vacation, said no additional petitions from Arnold or Nelson had been filed.

Files in the Mississippi Supreme Court show a “notice of retention” was filed Dec. 14, which means the justice will not transfer the matter to the Mississippi Court of Appeals, a spokesman said. No other information, including when a resolution would be made, was provided in the documents. Reeves polled 380 votes to Arnold’s 192 votes in the Nov. 13 Democratic Primary. Afterward, she said he had provided “fraudulent” documents to prove his residency. Reeves filed for homestead exemption in 2006 in Illinois, but a spokesman with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office has said that doesn’t necessarily disqualify him. Reeves said the fact that he has voted in Port Gibson for decades makes him a “qualified elector” for the municipal office.

While Arnold awaits a court order that she hopes will oust Reeves as the winner, he isn’t thinking about bowing out. “I’m making plans to take office,” he said. The new mayoral term begins Jan. 7.