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Mayoral candidate files paperwork to appeal decision removing her from June 6 ballot

With less than two weeks remaining before the city’s June 6 general election, Jennifer Thomas has filed papers with the circuit clerk appealing her disqualification as an independent candidate for mayor.

The petition for appeal was filed Monday. A hearing is set for Friday.

The Vicksburg Election Commission May 12 ruled Thomas did not meet the residence requirements to qualify as a candidate for the general election. The decision came after a hearing on a petition filed by the Vicksburg Democratic Executive Committee claiming Thomas was ineligible to run because she lived in the county.

The commission ruled she was unable to show sufficient proof she lived in the city.

“I actually believe that this is just a plot by the Democratic candidate (for mayor) to distract from the election,” Thomas said. “I believe that once a judge sees all the evidence that he is going to agree with us as well.

“We have a misdirected focus on what Vicksburg actually needs for four years now, and it’s time to direct our focus for something that’s more important, like infrastructure, jobs and economic development around the area.”

Election Commission chairman Clyde Redmon declined to comment on the appeal.

Attempts to contact Mary Galtney, the Democratic Executive Committee chairman, were unsuccessful.

During the May 11 hearing, the executive 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 members also said Thomas’ driver’s license and car tag had the Monteray Drive address.

According to Thomas’ petition appealing the commission’s decision, Thomas has lived at the Georgann Drive address, which is in the city limits, since Nov. 1, and has lived there for more than six months with her daughter and roommate.

Thomas, according to the petition, has removed the homestead exemption on the house in the county on Monteray Drive “thereby abandoning the residence.”

“The petitioner is a bona fide resident of the of the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and the Vicksburg Municipal Election Committee erroneously found in favor of the respondent (the executive committee),” the petition adds.

Thomas’ appeal is the second time in the past four years that a decision on residency qualifications has been appealed to Circuit Court. Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and Linda Fondren appealed similar decisions before the 2013 municipal elections.

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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