Questions about election code lead to another charter amendment

Published 7:22 pm Saturday, February 18, 2017

Questions involving the election code in the amended city charter has forced the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to make an additional amendment to clarify the residency requirements to qualify for municipal elections.

The board in January amended the city’s 105-year-old charter to set the duties of the mayor and aldermen, makes the division head accountable to an individual member of the board, require city division heads appointed after July to have to live in Vicksburg, and remove antiquated laws and regulations from the document.

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The amended charter also changed the city’s qualifications to run for elected municipal office, changing the residency requirement from living in the city for two years to 30 days before an election. But city attorney Nancy Thomas said the process for determining whether an individual met the residency requirements were unclear.

“They were broad and ambiguous,” she said. “We discussed it with the Attorney General’s Office and the Secretary of State, and they agreed, and said we should change to language to say the city would follow the state code, so that’s what we put in the amendment.”

The city’s prior two-year residency requirement for office came under fire in 2013, when Flaggs and Linda Fondren, both candidates for mayor, challenged it in Warren County Circuit Court.

The special judge hearing the case ruled the requirement was invalid because it did not follow the state election code requirements.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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