03/15/12 — Candidate's eligibility questioned

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Candidate's eligibility questioned

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on March 15, 2012 1:46 PM

Redistricting and residency requirements have thrown the eligibility of N.C. Senate District 5 candidate Tony Moore into question as state elections officials will determine later this month whether he can continue to pursue the Democratic nomination.

The issue is a residency challenge filed by Winterville resident Calvin Henderson, challenging whether Moore has lived in District 5 for the required amount of time after moving into his current residence in January. State statutes demand that candidates live in their legislative district for at least one year prior to the date of the election in which their running.

Moore acknowledged that he did move into his new residence in January, but said he has owned the property for the last four years. Furthermore, he explained, his old residence was in the 5th District until it was redistricted into District 7.

He also said he had discussed the issue with the Pitt County Board of Elections Director David Davis and had received an indication when he filed that his residency was not going to be a problem.

Davis said he knew this question would arise -- that his office had received inquires about Moore's residency status since the day he announced his intention to file -- and that he had talked to state elections officials about the issue and had felt that it would not be a problem.

He did acknowledge, though, that because of redistricting the residency issue wasn't entirely clear cut.

"That, redistricting, is what's kind of at the heart of this whole matter, and that's what the panel will decide," Davis said.

But to Moore, there is no question of his eligibility.

"I lived in the 5th District and moved to the 5th District. My old residency is in the now 7th District, and my new residency is in the 5th District. The General Assembly established new lines. All the districts are newly drawn," he said.

Johnnie McLean, deputy director of the state Board of Elections, declined to comment about whether that argument would hold up in a hearing, but added that, "each case is heard on its merits."

The residency hearing will be at 10 a.m. March 28 at the Pitt County commissioners auditorium at 1717 W. 5th St.

Moore, a current Winterville town councilman and former District 5 state senator, is running for the Democratic nomination against Don Davis, a former Snow Hill mayor and District 5 state senator. There is no Republican opposition for this minority-majority district.