Election protest dismissed by board

Sep. 17, 2013 @ 09:43 PM

On Tuesday the Vance County Board of Elections dismissed a protest brought by Garry Daeke, who questioned the place of residence of Geraldine Champion, his opponent for the Ward 3 City Council seat in the upcoming municipal election. Champion had listed her place of residence as 508 Owen Street.

Board of Elections Chairman Kevin Kilgore chaired a preliminary hearing on the protest. Other members of the board are Seneca Nicholson and Ginger Freeding, who were both present.

After some preliminary business, Kilgore read Daeke’s protest and pointed out sections of the N.C. General Statutes that define a place of residence. He said the board’s options in hearing the protest are to dismiss the protest or schedule a hearing, if probable cause is established that misconduct may have occurred.

When Kilgore gave the two candidates an opportunity to state their positions, Daeke said that during door-to-door campaigning on Owen Street, “A gentleman told me, ‘That’s not where she’s living.’”

He said two other individuals told him that Champion lives at 325 Charles Street. Unlike the Owen Street address, 325 Charles Street is not in Ward 3.

Daeke also said he has observed her automobile parked at the Charles Street house on several occasions.

Champion responded that her daughter lives at 325 Charles Street. Champion said she is there often because her daughter works two jobs.

“Yes, he’s seen me on Charles Street,” Champion said. “The main reason I’m on Charles Street is I’m babysitting.”

She said 508 Owen Street, which is her sister’s house, is her mailing address and most of her clothes are there.

“I don’t have a personal residence, so I stay at my sister’s house,” Champion said.

Kilgore read General Statute definitions of residency, which state it is where a person’s habitation is fixed and to which they intend to return. Additionally, they have no intention of making a permanent residence elsewhere.

He added that the definition provided to election board members during training is that a person’s residence is “the place where a person resides or intends to return.”

Daeke asked, “How do we know where she lives?”

Kilgore said, “In elections there has to be trust. I would remind the candidates and voters in general that providing fraudulent information in an election is a felony.”

He asked if the board had reached a consensus. They voted unanimously on a motion to dismiss Daeke’s protest and affirm that Ms. Champion’s address is 508 Owen Street.

Daeke and Champion had a brief conversation after leaving the hearing, assuring each other of their mutual respect and no hard feelings.

Daeke said, “This was nothing personal.” Champion replied, “That’s yesterday.”

Early voting will begin on Thursday. Election Day is Oct. 8.

 

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.