June 8, 2017 10:43:39 AM
The Oktibbeha County Democratic Party will hear Johnny Moore's appeal of May's mayoral runoff 10 a.m. Tuesday at the City Hall courtroom, party executive Patti Drapala confirmed.
Drapala said the Moore camp was served notice of the meeting Wednesday after his attorney, William Starks, filed a petition asking the Democratic Executive Committee to either count what Moore alleges are improperly excluded ballots or hold a third mayoral election if the true will of Starkville's electorate cannot be determined.
Drapala, who will chair Tuesday's hearing, also confirmed the other members of the Democratic Executive Committee who will hear Moore's request: Ryan Colvin, Walter Conley, Jim Morse, Ethel Shine, Yolanda Walker and Diane Wall.
Mayor-elect Lynn Spruill first edged Moore by about 70 votes in May 2's three-way Democratic primary, which also featured candidate Damion Poe, but a runoff was needed after she fell less than 3 percent shy of capturing a majority of the day's ballots.
Spruill maintained a six-vote lead over Moore after affidavit ballots were processed following May 16's runoff.
Both sides examined ballot boxes following Starkville's May 18 election certification, and Moore filed his petition Friday. A legal challenge could also follow.
Moore's petition with the Democratic Party alleges numerous election issues, including a failure to provide accounting for all ballots, improper markings of ballots by voters and improper rejection and acceptance of numerous affidavit and absentee ballots by election workers.
In all, issues exist with at least 50 ballots cast in the election, Starks said last week.
Starks did not reply to an email Wednesday, and a text message to Moore also went unanswered.
"Mr. Moore is exercising his options as the statute authorizes him to do," Spruill said last week. "It was a close election, and that often generates frustration and disappointment. We will continue to make our plans for the transition and look forward to July 3 (when the new administration is sworn into office) and the next four years."
Despite Moore's challenge, Spruill told The Dispatch she is focusing being sworn-in in July and planning her administration.
"My plans are proceeding full speed ahead in planning the events surrounding the swearing-in and the festivities that evening," Spruill said. "I am meeting with all the department heads and the incoming aldermen for what they want for their wards over the next four years. As mayor-elect, it is important that we are ready to handle the affairs of the city, and I would be remiss if I didn't proceed accordingly."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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