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May 8, 2008


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Drake’s District 4 residency status called into question
Jordan to file complaint with county elections superintendent
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Melvin Drake has qualified to seek his old District 4 seat at the county commission table. But is he living in District 5? And will he be eligible to challenge the Republican candidate in District 4 in the November general election?
District 4 Commissioner Wesley Jordan plans to file a complaint this week with the county election superintendent against Drake, saying that the potential Democratic challenger does not actually live in District 4.
The county registrar’s office shows that Drake voted in Comer (District 5) during the presidential primaries in February. He was listed as the 260th voter out of 351 citizens who cast ballots Feb. 5.
Jordan said he feels that the February vote in Comer clearly establishes that Drake should not run in District 4, since he has not changed his voter registration since the presidential primaries. The law requires that a candidate be a resident of the district in which he seeks office.
“Although I question his motives, I want to make it very clear that I do not have a personal problem with Melvin Drake,” said Jordan. “But I do have a problem with someone apparently living in District 5 on Arnold Park Road in February, even voting at the Comer precinct, and now mysteriously living once again in Danielsville.”
Jordan said he has been approached by citizens of District 4 who would like answers on the matter.
“I believe the people of District 4 want and deserve a representative on the board living here, voting here and serving the people here,” said Jordan Tuesday. “Therefore I will be filing a complaint with the elections superintendent as early as tomorrow (Wednesday).”
Drake said Tuesday that he lived in Comer up until “two to three weeks ago.” He said he has moved back to Danielsville to live with his 93-year-old mother, who needs his assistance.
“That’s right, I voted in Comer in February,” said Drake. “But I live in District 4 now. … I moved there to help take care of my mother.”
Drake lists his current address as 1664 Hwy. 98, Danielsville. He said the light bill, the gas bill, the taxes and insurance for that residence are all in his name.
“As far as I know, that’s what you call residency,” said Drake.
According to the Madison County Board of Assessors website, the 1664 Hwy. 98 home is in Melvin Drake’s name, though Drake does not receive a homestead exemption on the property.
Jordan said he commends Drake for wanting to take care of his mother, but he questions the timing of the move so close to qualifying. He also notes that many people often have bills and pay taxes on properties other than their residence.
After a complaint is filed, the county elections superintendent, Donald “Hoppy” Royston, will schedule a hearing to receive arguments from both sides.
Royston did not give any indication Monday on whether he would or wouldn’t approve District 4 residency status for Drake, saying he would have to hear the arguments.



 

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