Secretary of State R. Kyle Ardoin is expected to turn up at a hearing tomorrow in the ongoing legal battle between Councilman Elect Michael D. Harris and the City of DeRidder.
The initial lawsuit filed on May 9 by the City of DeRidder challenges Harris’s eligibility as member of the DeRidder City Council due to the location of his residence.
Harris told the Beauregard Daily News that the suit was filed not by the City in general but specifically by outgoing Mayor Ron Roberts.
It is required that candidates must have resided for at least one year at the registered domicile within the city limits. When Harris decided to run for councilman-at-large, he documented his domicile address as 806 Lake Court Dr. in DeRidder city limits.
He filed a permanent homestead exemption application on Jan. 16, 2017.
The suit claims Harris has been living in West Beauregard Parish since 2015. This is due to his alleged mailing address at his second home located at 386 Harmony Dr., DeRidder. This residence is technically outside city limits.
It has been released that Ardoin filed a petition yesterday to intervene in Harris’s favor, seeking to have the case dismissed.
The city is filing a “Writ of Quo Warranto” against Harris, claiming he is not fit to be appointed to the position due the accusation that he did not meet the qualifications to be eligible for the office.
Ardoin claims a “Writ of Quo Warranto” is not applicable in this case because it only pertains to cases where a candidate “usurps” an office. Someone who usurps a position of power or importance generally takes it illegally or by force.
Harris did not usurp the office, as he won the official runoff election in April.
Ardoin also stated in the petition that this suit, while disguised as a “Writ of Quo Warranto,” is actually an objection to candidacy.
According to the petition, the city of DeRidder is not legally able to file an objection to candidacy because it is “not within the class of persons entitled to bring objection to candidacy suits.”
Ardoin reaffirms this point in the petition. “The city of DeRidder is not a qualified elector and is does not have standing to bring an objection to the election of Michael Dwayne Harris,” he stated.
The petition also references Louisiana Revised Statute – “An action objecting to candidacy shall be commenced in a court of competent jurisdiction within seven days after the close of qualifications for candidates in the primary election.”
No objections to Harris’s candidacy were made within seven days of the qualifications back in January.
Ardoin is set to appear for the hearing at 10 a.m. tomorrow in the Beauregard Parish Courthouse.