2012-09-06 / Front Page

Who Will Be on the Ballot for JP?

Lee County Clerk, Sharon Blasig, told the Leader that as of Tuesday, August 28, which was the filing deadline for candidates wishing to run for Nick Hester’s unexpired term of Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace, there is one candidate qualified to be on the ballot. That candidate is Democrat Candace Walch.

The two other candidates that had filed to run for the same position have been disqualified due to incorrect paper work. Rick Reat, who was named as the Republican candidate for JP, P3, did not get a Certification of Nominee filed correctly by his party chair, Vance Bradford, by the deadline.

Donnie Milburn, who filed two weeks ago with the County Clerk’s office to run as an Independent candidate, was disqualified because he did not have enough qualified signatures from registered voters on the petition he was required to file.

On Tuesday, August 28, the last day to file, at about noon, Kay Sweat, Lee County Chair of the Democratic Party, approached the County Clerk and requested to see the paperwork of each of the other two candidates, including a petition for the independent candidate. The County turned over the paperwork that had been filed in their office and that’s when Sweat pointed out that Reat did not have his Certification of Nominee filed correctly by his party chair, and that Milburn did not have a petition that was required to accompany his paperwork.

The County Clerk then called Milburn at about 1 p.m. and told him he needed a petition with 76 names on it filed in her office by 5 p.m. that afternoon. They emailed him the petition and he began gathering names. The signatures had to be from registered voters from Precinct 3 in Lee County.

Milburn said, “I was in Austin when I got the word, but I was able to get back to Lexington and still collect 90 signatures, and deliver my petition to Giddings before 5 p.m. that same afternoon.”

Sometime later, Milburn was told that 16 of the signatures did not include complete addresses, as indicated by the instructions for the petition. He was also told that two of the signatures did not represent registered voters in good standing; therefore, he was left with only 72 qualifying signatures on his petition, leaving him four shy of the minimum required.

However, Milburn questioned the validity of the County Clerk’s ruling and took his case to the Secretary of State’s office.

Milburn said, “After hand carrying copies of my Declaration of Intent and Petition to the Secretary of State’s office in Austin on Thursday, we were told that all the forms given to me by the County Clerk’s office were incorrect, including the petition. We were told we could have an attorney file a Writ of Mandamus through the District Court to appeal the decision, and that the District Judge could rule in my favor and instruct the County to include my name on the ballot.”

Blasig said, “It is the candidate’s duty to get the correct information to run for office from the Secretary of State’s office. Their phones are available to anyone with questions and the forms and instructions can be downloaded from their website. My feeling is that he should have gotten his information directly from the Secretary of State from the beginning; therefore, the responsibility is the candidate’s and not the County Clerk’s office.”

So the question remains, “Whose name(s) will be on the ballot this November?”

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