‘Charging the gates’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 27, 2002

As a Republican candidate for office, Mark Story is well aware that there was much political hay to be made out of this year’s controversial Democratic primary in the state House of Representatives District 67 election.

For months his two would-be Democratic opponents, LaTosha Brown and Yusuf Salaam, contested the outcome of the June 25 runoff in the courts.

Literally hundreds of District 67 voters were subpoenaed to testify about how they voted. While fewer than two dozen were actually called to the stand, many were nonetheless surprised – and outraged – to discover that they could legally be compelled to testify at all.

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When pressed for an interview at one point during the proceedings, Story did express the opinion that the idea of threatening voters who refused to reveal how they voted with jail smacked of &uot;Third World politics.&uot; But otherwise he largely refrained from commenting publicly on the proceedings &045;&045; even though some of his advisers urged him to capitalize on the controversy for his own political gain.

(Story himself was among those subpoenaed to testify how he voted, although he was never actually called to the stand. His mother, Edna Story, was also subpoenaed, testifying that she voted for her son in the June 4 Republican primary and then crossed over to vote for Brown in the June 25 Democratic runoff, making her vote illegal, according to Democratic Party rules.

Asked if he ever discussed his mother’s apparent swing in loyalty with her, Story insisted he had not. &uot;That’s her right,&uot; he explained. &uot;That’s why we have a secret ballot.&uot;)

This is Story’s second campaign for office. He currently serves as chairman of the Dallas County School Board. His motivation for seeking political office, he said, is simple.

Story is a Republican partly out of political persuasion and partly out of his belief that the Black Belt has been poorly served over the years by being perceived as an unassailable Democratic bastion.

Story owns and operates Healthmark, a home medical supply company. He believes the experience of running his own business gives him a leg up on his political opponents.

He pointed out that his years in business have enabled him to meet and interact with a wide range of residents in this area from all walks of life.

Story said that the District 67 controversy has had little effect on his campaign thus far. &uot;From the beginning,&uot; he said, &uot;we were campaigning for Mark Story and not so much against a particular candidate.&uot;

With Salaam now officially declared the Democratic candidate and Brown mounting a serious write-in campaign, Story finds himself in the midst of a three-way race many are saying is too close to call. He promised a clean, low-key campaign based on issues.