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|Judge says Alex Promise eligible candidate for Ferriday mayor|
Judge Kathy Johnson ruled in Seventh District Judicial Court Monday that Alex Promise is eligible to run for the office of Mayor of Ferriday.
Mayor Gene Allen challenged the candidacies of both Promise and Justin Conner.
Allen claimed the address given by Promise was not where Promise resided and also challenged the candidacy of Justin Conner because Conner's wife, Rhonda, filed his papers at the Clerk of Court's office.
Conner's case has been continued until Thursday.
Johnson said the burden of proof was on Allen.
"There have been cases where if there was any doubt, the law favors permitting the candidate to run for public office," Johnson said. "Mr. Promise has a job that requires him to be away from home quite often. But he has been registered to vote at that location since 1978 and has a vehicle registered at that address. There was some evidence that the meters at his home had recently been cut off, but Mr. Allen didn't produce any neighbors to say he did not stay there. The deputies who served him (Promise) said he wasn't there, but this was during the Christmas holidays. All their case proved was that he was absent from home a lot. Mere physical absence does not exclude residency."
As for the other case, Conner's notice of candidacy was filed by his wife, Rhonda.
"In my appreciation of the law, he (Conner) did not sign his qualifying papers," Allen said today (Wednesday). "He had an agent to act, and that is not the way that you qualify."
The Concordia Parish Clerk of Court's office has a notarized affidavit signed by Conner allowing his wife to act as his agent.
"Justin did not sign his notice of candidacy," Allen said. "The law specifically states he has to sign those papers."
Allen stated in his petition that Promise "with a physical address being 496 Lincoln Avenue, Ferriday, La., this address is outside the city limits of the Town of Ferriday. Defendant is also believed to be a resident of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana."
"I knew that would be hard to prove," Allen said. "But it's hard for someone to live at a place where there are no utilities or gas."
Johnson asked Promise if he would like to hire an attorney and had Paul Benoist on hand to assist.
But Promise elected to represent himself and asked about invoking the 5th amendment, but was advised against it by Johnson.
After taking the stand, Johnson asked Promise if he would like to talk to Benoist, and after a brief meeting, Promise returned, still wishing to represent himself.
When questioned, Promise said he works for Primerica Financial Services and works out of offices in Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Monroe and parts of Texas.
Promise said he rarely stays at his home on 601 S. 5th Street, but listed his wife, Shelia's address of 496 Lincoln Ave., outside the city limits as a place he sometimes visits. He said his mother's house is outside city limits in Doty Gardens and that is where he receives his mail.
"That is for security reasons," Promise said.
Promise said his sister, Vanessa, stays at the house on 5th Street and he wasn't sure if the water, gas or electricity were connected.
Donald Linder with Atmos testified the gas had been cut off in March of 2003 and Sandra Cook, Water Clerk with the Town of Ferriday, said the water was cut off in July of 2007.
Promise said he would go to 5th Street maybe twice a month to rest or shower, but said he has clothes on 5th Street, on Lincoln Ave., and at his mothers' house.
Promise said he did stay at Seigen Building Apartments in Baton Rouge at one time, but moved out after Hurricane Katrina so relatives from New Orleans could stay there.
Town of Ferriday building inspector Charles Bell said there is no gas or electrical meter at 601 S. Fifth St., and the house was one that may be condemned.
When questioned by Promise, Bell said there was no written documentation of the house being condemned.
Robert Allen testified about pictures he took of the house on December 28, 2007.
When asked by Promise, Allen said he was Mayor Gene Allen's son and Sandra Cook's boyfriend, but said he was not working for the town when he took the pictures.
Deputy Larry Lawrence testified that he attempted to serve the papers to Promise's home address of 601 Fifth St., Ferriday five times over a three-day period, but no one was home and there was a padlock on the door.
"There were never any lights on," Lawrence said, who answered "no" when Johnson asked if there were Christmas decorations on display.
Lawrence also said he served papers to an apartment at Ferriday Villa but was told Promise did not live there. He said he also went to 297 Doty Gardens Circle, which is the address listed on a Promise's vehicle registration.
Lawrence said the house on Fifth Street looked abandoned.
Promise presented papers showing his father, who is now deceased, gave him total full use of the property in February of 1982.
"I was born in that house," Promise said. "During that period of time that house was and is my home."
Conner's case is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.
Promise and Conner were unsuccessful candidates for the job four years ago and both worked for Allen during the early months of his administration.
Conner unsuccessfully challenged Allen's residency in 2004.
Other candidates for the position of Mayor of Ferriday are Glen McGlothin, Glenn Henderson, Wanda Ann Baker Smith and Evelyn Parker.
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