Election Commission To Make District 9 Runoff Decision Next Wednesday, But Case Likely To Go To Court

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Hamilton County Election Commission will make a decision next Wednesday morning on whether or not there will be a runoff election for the close City Council District 9 race. However, commission members said the matter may ultimately be decided by a local chancellor.

Both Councilman Peter Murphy and former Councilman Yusuf Hakeem had lawyers by their sides at an emergency session of the Election Commission on Wednesday morning. Councilman Murphy was with Stuart James and Mr. Hakeem with Hal North.

The commission discussed the issue, but took no vote because of concerns there was not enough notification to the public under the state Sunshine Law. The meeting was called with less than 24 hours notice.

Mr. Hakeem got six more votes than the incumbent. However, there were seven write-in votes so that Mr. Hakeem did not get over 50 percent. They were the only candidates.

After the meeting, with both candidates and their attorneys present, the seven write-in votes were examined. None of them was for either of the two candidates.

The write-in votes were for Andrae McGary, Moses Freeman, Melanie Collins, J.J. and Michael Dewayne Davenport. Two people chose write-in, but did not write in a name.

Chairman Mike Walden said the office has been advised by state election officials that write-in votes - unless they are for an approved write-in candidate - are not supposed to be considered or reported.

He said, "We are the only one out of 95 counties reporting write-in votes."

Mr. Walden said a part of the problem involves conflicts within the city charter. He said, "The irony is that there was an item on the ballot cleaning up some parts of the city charter, but they left in an 1800s provision about elections. The city charter is an embarrassment. It's simply terrible."

Hamilton County uses paper ballots that are run through a vote counting machine. There is a spot on the ballot for write-ins. However, in this election there were no approved write-in candidates.

Commissioner Jerry Summers, an attorney who is the former election panel lawyer, said during the meeting that the search of the seven write-ins "will show whether they voted for Councilman Murphy, Mr. Hakeem, Donald Duck, Donald Trump or whoever."

He said, "A lot of old time folks may not trust voting machines" and may want to write in their choices.

He noted that the city charter has conflicts on the issue with one section requiring a candidate to get over 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff. If the write-in ballots are counted, Mr. Hakeem got 49.8 percent of the vote, and that is the way the election office reported the results.

Mr. Walden said, "Anybody can write in a name, but we rely on the ones who are on the ballot. No one met the requirement to be a write-in candidate."

Chris Clem, the current Election Commission attorney, said during the meeting, "Let's see what the seven ballots show. I think that will clear up a lot."

Nathan Foster, a programmer at the election office, said it is his opinion that the seven write-ins "are irrelevant" and the only votes that should be counted are for "the two candidates on the ballot."

If a runoff is held, it will be April 9. The only other runoff is for City Council District 4 between Jack Benson and Larry Grohn.

 

 


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ALEXANDER, MELANIE SYDNEY 816 ASTERWOOD DRIVE ROSSVILLE, 30741 25 Chattanooga POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE - MARIJUANA BAXTER, TRAVIS MATTHEW 1330 GREENSLAKE ROAD EAST RIDGE, 37412 22 East Ridge AGGRAVATED DOMESTIC ASSAULT W/VEHICLE POSSESSION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA BELL, CHARLIE ... (click for more)

Deputy Beaten After Vehicle Crashes In His Yard Sues Officers

A man who was mistakenly beaten by officers who had been pursuing a pickup truck that crashed into his home has sued Hamilton County and the officers for $700,000. Aaron Lucas Shelton and his wife, Heather Nicole Shelton, filed the suit in Circuit Court. Aaron Shelton is himself a deputy sheriff. It names Curtis Brian Killingsworth and unknown officers who allegedly took part ... (click for more)

We Ought To Pay Our Own Way

The government is too big. It has never been bigger - by any measure. It spends more money than any other single actor in our society. From Blue Rhinos to providing telecommunications services, our government knows no bounds. We’ve gone from a free enterprise system to a public enterprise system.  I'm not an artist. I'm not terribly tech savvy. The part of government that ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Secret Train Ride

It was during Christmas of 2003 when Bennett Levin and his wife found themselves talking and worrying about the wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Military Hospital in Bethesda, Md., and at the nearby Bethesda Naval Hospital. Their wish was that they could do something meaningful, something really grand, for the soldiers who had lost limbs, their eyesight, and far worse. As ... (click for more)

Henderson's Heroics Lead Warrors Past Bears, 53-45

(Story will be updated) Kordell Henderson put White County’s Warriors on his back and Bradley Central had no answers for his brilliant second-half performance. Henderson scored the Warriors’ first 16 second-half points and powered the District 6-AAA champion Warriors to a 53-45 victory over the Bears on Saturday to win the Region 3-AAA tournament championship at Ooltewah ... (click for more)

Brainerd, Central Boys Advance To Region 3-AA Hoop Finals

LOUDON, Tenn. -- Brainerd won both regular-season matchups while Central won at the Best of Preps third-place consolation game before capturing the District 6-AA title last week at Red Bank. The season tally is now two wins each against each other and now they are ready for Round 5 following the Region 3-AA semifinals here at Loudon High School Saturday afternoon. Brainerd ... (click for more)