Bates challenges election

Published 5:34 pm Thursday, September 11, 2008

Carolyn Bates, a candidate for the Ward 4 Selma City Council seat, has filed papers in circuit court to contest the election.

Bates acknowledged the filing Wednesday. She said she did not have an attorney.

“I want the state government and the federal government to step in and set some guidelines,” Bates said.

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Bates came in fourth in a field of five with only five votes separating her 211 from Carrie Pressley’s 216 votes. Yet, Angela Benjamin and Kelvin Williams will compete again each other in the run-off election Oct. 7.

The winner of the run-off will take office, said Jimmy Nunn, the city’s attorney, until Bates’ complaint is resolved in the court system.

Sometimes, that takes several years.

Bates filed the complaint against Concordia College, the Dallas County Board of Registrars, and the city, Mayor James Perkins Jr., the Perkins Campaign Committee, among others.

She alleges misconduct and fraud or corruption to prevent a fair election. In her two-page complaint filed at the Dallas County Courthouse earlier this week, Bates said Perkins, his campaign and Concordia College officials collaborated to have students vote for Perkins and his approved slate of candidates.

Both the Perkins campaign and college officials have denied the collaboration.

“We don’t tell students how to vote,” said acting president McNair Ramsey.

The college encourages students to register to vote as part of their learning to be good citizens, Ramsey said.

Bates also alleges vans with Perkins’ campaign stickers on them were allowed to drive up past the 30-foot mark where campaigning is not allowed at the polls.

Nunn said once the city is served with notice of the filing of the complaint, he’ll contact the insurance company for Selma.

If the insurance company doesn’t represent the city, then his office will, Nunn said.

Bates’ challenge is the only one to the Aug. 26 election. Ward 6 incumbent Councilman Johnnie Leashore had sought and received a recount last week. However, he did not file a court challenge to his defeat to challenger B.L. Tucker.