Thomas tossed from mayor’s race

Published 8:03 pm Friday, May 12, 2017

The attorney for Jennifer Thomas said he will appeal the Vicksburg Election Commission decision disqualifying her as a candidate for mayor in the June 6 general election.

“We are very disappointed by the election commission’s decision,” Chris Green said. “We feel that it is contrary to the state law regarding residency and it is not fair to Ms. Thomas or to the citizens of Vicksburg. We do not intend to take this lying down. We are going to follow our next course of action and appeal it to the circuit court in Warren County.”

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The commission’s decision followed a hearing on a challenge by the Vicksburg Democratic Executive Committee.

The single paragraph decision was emailed to Thomas, the members of the executive committee and The Vicksburg Post.

“The Vicksburg Municipal Election Commission after properly convening a hearing … (and) having heard testimony from both the petitioner and the respondent, has investigated and deliberated and finds that Jennifer Thomas does not meet the residency requirements in order to be paced on the June 6, 2017, ballot for the office of Mayor of the City of Vicksburg,” the decision stated.

Attempts to contact commission chairman Clyde Redmon about the ruling were unsuccessful.

The challenge filed May 8 by the Vicksburg Democratic Executive Committee claimed Thomas was ineligible to run for mayor because she lived in the county. Thomas denied the accusation.

During the hearing, the committee members said Thomas had homes at 120 Monteray Drive and 5060 Oakridge Road. They said Thomas’ daughter attended Redwood Elementary, which is in the northern part of the county, and Thomas had changed her voter registration to an address at 200 Georgann Drive Apt. B-2, and her nominating petition had the Georgann Drive address in the city.

The committee member also said Thomas’ driver’s license and car tag had the Monteray Drive address.

Green said Thomas’ address is 200 Georgeann Drive, and provided an affidavit from Thomas’ roommate confirming that Thomas lived at the address. He also presented a Census form showing Thomas lived on Georgann Drive, and a bill from an advertising company mailed to her at that address.

Thomas said later the utilities were in her roommate’s name. She testified she owned the homes at 120 Monteray Drive and 5060 Oakridge Road, and has lived in Vicksburg most of her life. She said her license expired in August 2016 and she used the Monteray Drive address when she renewed her license.

“That was prior to moving to Georgeann,” she said. “I have two houses in the county, but I live in the city.”

Thomas said she had a homestead exemption on the Monterey Drive home, but she moved out because the county raised her taxes. She said she moved to the apartment on Georgann Drive in November, and had no intention to move back to the Monteray Drive home. She planned to refurbish it and rent it out.

She said, however, she sometimes stayed at the house when she had to work late.

Thomas said later she removed the homestead exemption from the Monteray Drive home because she did not want her integrity questioned. “Now, I’m having my integrity questioned,” she said.

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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