by Alan Lange

On Monday, April 4, 2005, a bombshell was dropped at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Municipal Democratic Executive Committee. Lavaree Jones, an executive in the county and state Democratic Party and James Rice, an unsuccessful candidate for Hinds County Election Commissioner, brought forth an official protest in front of the Committee challenging the residency of Frank Melton. To complicate the matter, the protest was made outside the statutory challenge period of 10 days outside the qualification deadline, which was March 4, 2005.

At the heart of their issue were two pieces of documentation. First, the lack of a homestead exemption filing in Melton’s Ward 1 home. Second, the filing for homestead exemption in his Smith County, Texas home where his wife primarily resides.

Finally, Committee Chairman Claude McInnis, who also serves in an executive capacity with the state party, made plain his discontent that Melton represented, though not under oath, that he had filed homestead exemption for his home in Jackson. Melton later came out on the record in a TV interview to say that he was mistaken and thought he had filed that exemption.

The protesters have commented on the record that they are doing this to save the party from being weakened. The stated doomsday scenario for the protesters and some members of the Executive Committee is that Melton win the Democratic Primary and then be decertified by the Republican challenger. Though an appeal has been made to Attorney General Jim Hood for a non-binding opinion, all indications are that he will not rule because it is a party matter and not one involving state election law at this point. This will most likely put the matter back into the hands of the Executive Committee for some resolution, which may likely be appealed by either side to a court for relief.

All of this begs the question of what does make someone a resident?

– Homestead exemption
– Owning a house/real property
– Where you get your mail
– Drivers’ license
– Voter registration
– Certification of residency by other entities
– Paying state and local taxes
– Being the responsible parent/party for children in local public schools

So the question is, Is Frank Melton a Jackson resident?

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