Justice of the Peace candidate disqualified, could stay on ballot anyway

Justice of the Peace candidate disqualified, could stay on ballot anyway

A judge ruled Monday that a Cherokee County man running for Justice of the Peace was never qualified to run in the first place. But a loop hole could end up keeping Rodney Wallace's name on the November ballot.

As strange as it sounds, the comings and goings on a property in Ponta are at the center of the ballot battle.

In March, voters had their chance to rubber stamp Rodney Wallace as the republican nominee for precinct four Justice of the Peace. Following the primary, current J.P. Vera Foreman asked a district judge to force Wallace out of the election.

Wallace was required to be a legal resident of Cherokee County by June 9, 2013. He testified Monday that he was still spending four nights a week in Tarrant County several months past that deadline for residency.

"Facts are what they are," Foreman's attorney John Ament said. "Our case, in chief, was public record. The Tarrant County voting records, homestead records, deed records, some records from Cherokee County, and there's not arguing with those."

Ament spent most of his time hammering on Wallace's voting record, specifically on a ballot cast in Tarrant County last November--also well past the residency deadline.

"It never crossed my mind until the election came up," Wallace testified in court. "Then I thought 'well I need to go vote.'"

He added that, by then, he could have just as easily voted in Cherokee County.

Ultimately Judge Jerry Calhoun ruled that Wallace shouldn't have been on the primary ballot. But he was careful to say his ruling might not be binding on the Republican Party of Cherokee County, whose leadership will now decide who runs.

"I make no observation as to what the republican committee May or may not take," Calhoun said from the bench. "That's beyond the scope of this court to determine."

"That temporal issue [of when Rodney became a Cherokee County Resident] goes away if the Republican Party of Cherokee County decides they are going to make a replacement appointment," Wallace's brother and attorney Mike said.

Mike Wallace said an appointment decision from the party leadership will re-set the clock on residency and allow Rodney Wallace another chance.

Ament said he believes Wallace would still have to prove residency based on the original deadline.

"I have a real serious question about whether they could re-nominate or nominate Mr. Wallace," he said.

Party chair Jerry Rix said he believes Wallace is eligible for a potential appointment to the ballot.

"There's no name right now that has precedence, including the candidate who was just disqualified," Rix said. "But I'm sure that he will have an inside track on it."

Rodney Wallace also has the option of appealing Monday's decision about his residency as it relates to the deadline for the primary ballot. Mike Wallace said they haven't decided whether to do that.


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