Committee: Ward 2 results stand

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 29, 2000

Voters who came to a Democratic Executive Committee hearing Monday wanted Alderman George Harden to know that the results of the May 2 primary should stand.

After about 30 minutes of deliberation, the municipal Democratic Executive Committee voted unanimously Monday to let the certified results of the election for Ward 2 stand.

Alderman George &uot;Shake&uot; Harden, defeated by James&160;&uot;Ricky&uot; Gray in the primary by 107 votes, had contested the results of the election because he said that some voters do not live in the ward and that some absentee ballots were cast improperly.

Email newsletter signup

But after hearing from Harden and from several Ward 2 voters, the committee announced its decision to a crowded city council chambers. Harden, who left immediately after speaking to the committee, was absent for the final announcement.

Except for Harden, all who spoke at the hearing seemed to be in favor of Gray.

Eva Dunkley, a candidate for the alderman post four years ago, said the same misconduct Harden alleged happened when she ran, but she chose not to contest.

&uot;I was strong enough to accept my defeat,&uot; Dunkley said.

&uot;If you even consider a new election that will waste taxpayer money,&uot; she told the executive committee. &uot;This is just my opinion that he’s a sore loser and needs to get over it.&uot;

Harden defended his right to contest the election.

&uot;George Harden is not here for a personal attack on anybody,&uot; he said. &uot;George Harden has a right for what he’s doing.

&uot;Wherever there’s a wrong, it will come out,&uot; he said, a theme he repeated in his short presentation.

After the hearing, Gray said he was glad to put the election behind him.

&uot;I feel the people had already spoken,&uot; Gray said. &uot;I put my faith in the Lord, and if the Lord is with you, the devil can’t be against you.&uot;

Harden’s petition claimed 85 absentee ballots were cast improperly because they did not have an envelope showing the ballot application was mailed to the city clerk’s office.

Harden also said 72 people who voted in the election were not actual residents of Ward 2.

But after the hearing, members of the executive committee said an envelope is not required with an application.

If the application is made in the city clerk’s office, for example, there is no need for a second envelope, said committee chairman Jacqulyn B. Williams. Williams said only the actual ballot must be secured in an envelope signed across the flap.

And if voters are registered in the city, even if they work and live most of the year outside the city, they are still eligible to vote.

&uot;The key phrase is they have not established a voter residence anywhere else,&uot; said committee secretary Beverly Merrill. During the hearing, she used herself as an example: When her husband served in the military in Germany for three years, she was still eligible to vote in Mississippi because she was registered there.

Merrill said it is the voters’ responsibility to make name and address changes on their registration.

Harden still has the option of taking his complaint to circuit court. Monday afternoon, he did not say whether he would pursue that option.

&uot;I am not a sore loser,&uot; Harden said at the hearing. &uot;I know when to go home.&uot;

Harden, who has been in office since 1985, said he wanted to thank the voters of Ward 2 for supporting him.

&uot;I hope much success to the new administration,&uot; he said.

Eletra Dunkley said at the hearing that she believes the will of the voters was clear in the primary election.

&uot;I think the decision was made May 2,&uot; Eletra Dunkley said. &uot;Everyone has the freedom to vote. I think (this is) questioning the voters and who they want to be (in office). I&160;would not bank my life on politics. … It’s time to accept the will of the Lord and not question it.&uot;