On April 4, Jackson resident James Rice asked the Jackson Municipal Democratic Executive Committee to take a second look at the qualifications of Democratic mayoral candidate Frank Melton, asserting that Melton was not qualified to run in the district because he had not filed homestead exemption there. Rice, wielding a printout from the Hinds County Tax Assessor’s Web site, questioned whether Melton’s campaign could be derailed by Republican opponents. (A Mississippi Supreme Court ruling says that the homestead exemption can set a strong precedent for determining where a candidate lives.)
“My fear is that if Mr. Melton wins the primary and then gets disqualified by someone challenging his residency, the Democrats will have lost their seat,” Rice said.
Melton’s deadline for filing homestead exemption was April 1. The Jackson Free Press has taped recordings of Melton telling the same commission on March 9 that he had filed homestead exemption in Jackson. Melton had previously filed for homestead exemption in Tyler, Texas, in 1997, and hadn’t filed elsewhere since.
Jackson Free Press