Web site appears to boost disqualified candidate

JACKSON– The three-member state Elections Commission on Monday denied Jackson attorney Latrice Westbrooks a spot on the ballot to run for a Court of Appeals post because she does not live in the district.

Westbrooks does not argue with the fact that she lives outside District 2 — by less than a mile. The only problem, according to her attorney, Lance Stevens, is that state law does not require her to live in the district. Stevens told the Election Commission that the only residency requirement under state law is that the candidate be a resident of the state for five years.

Judicial races are non partisan, but it is no secret that Westbrooks would be viewed as the Democrat in the race. But the decision of the Election Commission did not appear to be partisan. It was the position of Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood’s office, as well as that of Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, that Westbrooks did not meet the residency requirement.

Stevens said that the Secretary of State’s web site, tracking state law, does not list living in the district as a requirement to run for the Court of Appeals. He pointed out that according to Hosemann’s web site to run for numerous other posts, such as Public Service commissioner, Transportation commissioner or legislator, a candidate must be a resident of the district.

But according to the web site, to run for Court of Appeals, a candidate must be a resident of the state. Hosemann said his web site is not the last word on candidate qualifications.

Stevens said Westbrooks will appeal.