As I wrote yesterday, I spoke with a reporter for The N&O. I checked their online edition today and here is the article. You can also link to it by the post title link.
Selma officials try to add challengers
By PEGGY LIM, Staff Writer
Selma seemed destined for a sleepy election this season, with the mayor apparently unopposed and only three candidates for two seats on the Town Council.
But two other would-be candidates, whose filings the Johnston County Board of Elections declared invalid, may shake up the race yet. Charles Hester, who wants to run for mayor, and Tommy Holmes, who hopes to run for Town Council, are battling to get on the November ballot.
Hester, Holmes and another council hopeful, Jim Earp, filed in Selma's Town Hall the morning of Aug. 5, the last day of filing for the election. The town clerk delivered their paperwork to the county Board of Elections office in Smithfield after 4 p.m., said the board's deputy director, Leigh Anne Price.
The deadline was noon. Following state law, the elections office declared the filings invalid.
Earp withdrew his application. But Selma officials, including Mayor Harry Blackley and the entire Town Council, say they want Hester and Holmes in the race.
"We need the election," Blackley said. "The people of Selma should decide who their mayor is."
Town officials will meet Tuesday with the county Board of Elections in hopes of overturning the decision.
Fearing the board may have little leeway to reverse the decision, Selma town attorney Alan "Chip" Hewett is seeking a Superior Court ruling to let Hester and Holmes appear on the ballot. Hewett requested a court hearing Aug. 29.
If the Elections Board's decision is not overturned, Selma would "be deprived of two faultless candidates that are ready, willing and able to run for political office," Hewett wrote in a legal complaint filed Friday against the county Board of Elections.
Troy LaPlante, 37, another Town Council candidate, said he also thought Hester's and Holmes' filings should be considered valid. "But then again, that's why I filed better than a month ago," he said.
Holmes, a retired service station owner, said he was disappointed when his filing was rejected.
"My understanding was I had until 12 to file," said Holmes, 55.
Hester, who made up his mind to run for office that morning, said he wished the town had taken the filings immediately to Smithfield or directed him there.
"I'm not angry. I know [Town Clerk] Fran Davis, and she's a great woman," said Hester, 70, who owns a real estate company. "She feels terrible about it, and the town manager does, too."
If the court or board does not reverse the ruling, Hester's and Holmes' only recourse would be to run as write-in candidates.
Staff writer Peggy Lim can be reached at 836-5799 or email@example.com.