Questions of Candidacy Spark Reaction

Tuesday, candidates reacted strongly to a challenge of Frank Melton’s eligibility to be a candidate for mayor.

Lavaree Jones, an official with the state and local democratic party, and James Rice question Melton’s residency, based on his filing in Texas for homestead exemption.

Hinds County Tax Assessor Mike Barnes says the tax was set up to encourage homeownership. “It gives a tax break to be a homeowner,” said Barnes.

But in some court cases, the tax has helped establish residency. The court says homestead exemption can be used to provide a strong presumption of residency in candidacy disputes. But exceptions to this standard can be made if a candidate can prove residency in other ways.

The Mississippi constituion says candidates for city office must live in that city for at least 6 months before the election, with no mention of homestead exemption.