South Jacksonville residents will find a single name on the ballot for Mayor in the April election, following a ruling by the Village’s Electoral Board Wednesday night.
In a lengthy and at times heated hearing, the Electoral Board of the Village of South Jacksonville voted unanimously to allow an objection to the Petition for Nomination of Tyson Manker to stand, causing Manker to be removed from the ballot.
Manker’s opponent and current Village Trustee, Richard Samples, filed the objection on December 30th. The objection stated that Manker’s petition was not properly fastened as instructed, one of the notarized pages of signatures was not signed by Manker, and that he failed to file his Statement of Economic Interest with the Office of Morgan County Clerk Jill Waggoner.
Manker, who attended the meeting remotely, provided as evidence an email response from Waggoner that stated “candidates will file their petition paperwork with the Village Clerk”.
Manker said the communication he received before filing his petition did not specify that he was to file the Statement of Economic Interest with the Clerk’s Office Directly. Manker says based on the email guidance, he included the Statement in his election packet he filed with the Village of South Jacksonville.
Electoral Board member Paula Stewart made a motion during the hearing to deny Samples’ second objection that page two of the signatures in Manker’s packet was notarized, but had not been signed by Manker. Stewart said the point of objection was moot.
“The second of his objections was that page two of Mr. Manker’s petition did not contain a circulator’s signature as required by law. But the document was notarized and I didn’t have a problem with removing this because clearly, there were only 83 signatures required for people filing petitions for this election coming up in April, and so that was a moot point for me. There was no reason, Mr. Manker clearly had enough signatures, so I wanted to strike that Number 2 objection from Richard Samples’ filing.”
Samples withdrew the objection before a vote could be called on the motion. Stewart says the board’s decision came down to the Statement of Economic Interest.
“I saw that the Economic Interest Statement was included within Mr. Manker’s packet, which is required by law. But I failed to find a receipt and that is considered a fatal error. It made his candidacy null and void. And so the objection, I had to vote in favor to allow the objection on that simple fact that Mr. Manker did not file his Candidate’s Statement of Economic Interest with Jill Waggoner’s office at Morgan County, as it required by state law.”
A vote on the first point of objection, that Manker’s paperwork was not properly stapled or fastened as required, was denied by the board, also by unanimous vote.
Technical difficulties plagued the hearing throughout the evening. Board Chair and current Village Mayor Harry Jennings said the internet at Village Hall struggled to keep up with the large number of attendees logged into the Zoom meeting.
An emergency motion Filed by Manker on January 11th to remove Jennings as Chair was denied unanimously by board members Paula Stewart and Megan Moore.
All three members of the Board also voted to deny a motion by Manker to strike and dismiss Samples’ objection, stating that Manker’s argument that Samples’ objection failed to declare what relief he sought from the board, was not reason enough to keep the objection from being heard.
During comments from the floor after the ruling, a remote attendee asked how Samples was made aware of possible issues with Manker’s petition. After the meeting, Samples maintained that he followed proper procedure in reviewing the petition.
“I simply came up here and FOIA’ed, Freedom of Information Act, his packet. There’s a record of it, which is public, and I noticed the discrepancies and that’s what I made my objection on.”
A call by WLDS News was not immediately returned by Manker following the meeting. In a written message received overnight, Manker said “The board voted to strike my name from the ballot, all 93 signatures and hand their colleague Dick Samples the election because I filed the Statement of Economic Interest document with the Village Clerk as instructed [by] the County Clerk.”
The Electoral Board will meet on Monday at 4:15 pm to sign the written ruling on the case, at which point Manker then will have five days to file a complaint with the Morgan County Circuit Court.
Manker alluded during discussion after the ruling he intended to appeal.