Municipal general elections are a little more than a month away. However, a Meridian man who filed to run as an independent candidate says there may be controversy even after the voting is complete.
Walter Patton submitted a petition to run for Ward 5 city councilman, but was disqualified as a candidate by the Municipal Election Commission.
Patton said he submitted more than the 50 names of registered voters that were required in order for him to qualify.
Two weeks ago he was informed that he is disqualified from the race because the residents who signed his petition were not all from Ward 5.
According to the city's election commission, the registered voters who sign the petition must all be from the same ward that the candidate seeks to represent.
However, Patton says this is not true based on the paperwork he says he was given by officials in the city clerk's office.
"In the law, it says here that a municipal clerk must certify that the signatures are of those in a municipality. It does not say a ward," Patton said.
Patton says that information comes from the 2009 Candidate Qualifying Guide.
Although the head of the election commission, Wilbert Jones, declined comment on the issue, city attorney Bill Hammack, told Newscenter 11 by phone that, "The decision is consistent with state law and an opinion that was previously issued by the state attorney general in a similar case."
Patton says this case if far from over.
"My next step is to go back to the attorney general. I want his opinion," said Patton. "I need him to explain. I will fight it and I will fight it as far as I have to go."
The election commission also disqualified Ward 2 city council candidate, Tavio Rand, who was also running as an independent, for not having enough valid signatures from his ward.
Posted: 08/20/2013 - Gov. Phil Bryant has set the date for a new mayoral election in Hattiesburg.
Posted: 08/11/2013 - Ware asks judge to make him Hattiesburg mayor.