JP Candidate Milburn Ends His Fight
Donnie Milburn announced in August that he intended to run for Justice of the Peace Pct. 3 as an independent candidate. However, his run was mired from the start, and given the results of a court appeal last Thursday, he has decided not to take his case to the Texas Supreme Court.
He first decided to run as an independent when he wasn’t given the “nod” by the Lee County Democratic Executive Committee as their candidate to fill the void left by retiring Nick Hester, who had held that job for the past 18 years.
Milburn was one of several candidates considered, but the local Democrats threw their weight behind Candace Walch, who has served as the City of Lexington’s Municipal Court Clerk for the past seven years and the past year as the Justice of the Peace Court Clerk.
When friends and family encouraged him to run, Milburn decided to go ahead and throw his hat in the race as an independent. He filled out the required paperwork (so he thought) and filed it with the County Clerk on August 22, plenty of time to have his name included on the ballot.
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. Rick Reat had been selected as the Republican candidate earlier in the month. The County Clerk 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. that afternoon and told him he needed a petition with 76 names on it filed in her office by 5 p.m. that same day.
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.”
All but 18 of the signatures were proven to be that of legitimate registered voters and/or with specifically required address information, leaving him shy four signatures. The County Clerk ruled the petitions inadequate, and informed Milburn his name would not be on the ballot.
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, 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.”
So, the fight was on.
Milburn employed the help of Josef Buenker, an attorney out of Houston. They garnered the necessary paperwork and made an appeal in the 21st District Court of Lee County. Last Thursday, September 27, Milburn, with his wife and attorney at his side, appeared before the Honorable Terry Flenniken, the 21st District Court Judge, to learn his plight.
The Judge ruled against Milburn, despite the fact that he had, in good faith, presented everything needed to have his name included on the November 6 ballot. There was just one problem, some of the signatures to which Milburn attested before a notary that he witnessed, were not witnessed by him after all. He did not know, in the rush of everything, that he had to witness each person sign.
Thus, the fatal blow. Milburn is out. Walch is in by default, with no competition to challenge her as the successor to Nick Hester’s legacy at the bench as the Lee County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3.