Council hopeful is facing residency question
By Ty Johnson
Published in News on March 21, 2012 1:46 PM
A Goldsboro City Council candidate who said previously that he enjoys challenges now will face one questioning his eligibility to run for office.
The Wayne County Board of Elections received a challenge March 9 from Joseph Starling McLamb of North Carolina Street seeking to disqualify the candidacy of District 1 Candidate Kyle Pritchard.
The challenge claims that, as of March 7, the Wayne County Property Tax Card associated with Pritchard's listed address -- 309 W. Walnut St. -- lists Deutsche Bank National Trust as the owner of the property. It also cites a listing on a commercial website by East Carolina Properties REO showing the status of the sale of the property as "pending."
The challenge also points out that the phone number Pritchard registered with the Board, a cell phone, has an area code associated with Raleigh. Finally, it includes an entry from a N.C. Democratic Party database that lists Pritchard as a registered voter in Nashville.
The documents attached are nearly all outdated, however, as deed information acquired by the News-Argus, which was given to the Wayne County Tax Office on Feb. 2 shows that Pritchard owned the property on that day -- the same day it was recorded by the Register of Deeds office.
Pritchard's most current voter registration on file at the Board of Elections also shows he registered as a voter in Goldsboro's District 1 on Feb. 29 -- the same morning he began filing his paperwork as a candidate for that office.
The challenge calls for subpoenas to be issued for documentary evidence concerning Pritchard's residency ranging from his driver's license and Department of Motor Vehicle records to newspaper subscription information and family gathering photos from 2008 until the present. The challenge questions Pritchard's candidacy and also his qualifications as a voter in his district.
There are no strict residency requirements to run for office in the city of Goldsboro, with the only ordinance stating that a candidate need only be an eligible voter in his district to run. The state's General Statutes, however, do define residency by requiring a candidate show abandonment of his first domicile with the intent of not returning to it, combined with the acquisition of a new domicile by actual residence and the intent to make the newer domicile a permanent home.
"To be a registered voter all he has to do is prove he has abandoned his old establishment, does not plan on returning to that residence and he has taken up residence with the intention to stay at 309 W. Walnut," said Vickie Reed, director of the Wayne County Board of Elections.
Pritchard still owns his residence in Spring Hope -- where he lived and was a registered voter previously -- but said Tuesday he now lives in his Walnut Street home full-time. He has said he will rent out his residence in Nash County.
The only contention that could exist would lie in whether Pritchard met the requirement to register as a voter in his district.
The language at the bottom of the form states that those who register "attest, under penalty of perjury" that they will have been residents of the state, county, precinct or other election district for 30 days before the election in which they intend to vote.
But, voter registration applications also contain check boxes indicating whether a candidate has lived in his or her listed residence for 30 days or more, which could be an issue since the deed was not registered until Feb. 2, just 27 days before Pritchard filed.
The registration form states in the bottom-right corner that those who sign the form knowing information listed to be false can be convicted of a Class 1 felony.
Pritchard, however, signed the deed Jan. 27 and said Tuesday that as of Jan. 26 his name was on the electricity bill for the home. He also said his name is listed on the city water bill beginning Jan. 29 and that he was living in his home awaiting the water to be turned on when his service began shortly thereafter.
Pritchard said the only times he spends away from the home now is when he is away on business or visiting relatives.
A hearing will be held April 3 at 1 p.m. in the Parker Memorial Board room at the Wayne County Board of Elections office at 209 S. William St., where the Board of Elections will serve in a quasi-judicial role as the panel to hear the challenge of candidacy.