by Sam Hieb
Maybe it’s me, but it seems like all of a sudden there is a wave of citizen candidacy challenges at various levels of government. One example is the challenge to council member Todd Rotruck’s residency, which has effectively shut down the Summerfield Town Council as Rotruck’s case works its way through the courts.
Now we have the case of UNCG professor Jen Mangrum, who openly admits she moved to Senate District 30 so she can challenge Sen. Phil Berger in the November election. But a Reidsville resident filed a candidacy challenge against Mangrum, disputing whether or not she really lives in the district and –if he does—whether or not she established residency there prior to the Feb. 28 candidacy filing deadline.
As the Greensboro News & Record’s Rockingham bureau reports, a panel made up of board of elections members from counties within N.C. Senate District 30 voted 3-2 to disqualify Mangrum from running in November. The vote was along party lines which—as you can imagine—prompted a protest from the N&R:
The first challenge against Mangrum was based on voter registration, which requires a unanimous vote that was not attained. Why should a candidacy hearing be less definitive? For a person to be convicted of a crime requires a unanimous decision of the jury. So should this.
Like the gerrymandered districts we seek to correct and the independence of judges we aim to protect, such reviews need to be clearly devoid of politics. This case merely reinforces why.
Mangrum has already said she will appeal to the state elections board, and if she loses there, expect legal action. Stay tuned.