2 more Muscogee Co. Sheriff candidates disqualified from race on - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

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2 more Muscogee Co. Sheriff candidates disqualified from race on Monday

Donna Tompkins (L) and Mark LaJoye (R) from an April 28 meeting. (Source: WTVM) Donna Tompkins (L) and Mark LaJoye (R) from an April 28 meeting. (Source: WTVM)

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - In a decision made on Monday, the Muscogee County Board of Elections determined that the remaining two candidates to run against incumbent Sheriff John Darr will also be disqualified from the race.

Donna Tompkins and Mark LaJoye were both ruled ineligible to run for county sheriff on Monday.

Tompkins and LaJoye are the third and fourth candidates to be considered ineligible; in mid-April, Pamela Brown and Robert Smith were disqualified for late fingerprints submissions.

"It should not be this difficult to run for public office, I believe that I did everything that was required of me by the law, and I still believe that the citizens of this county deserve the right to choose their next sheriff," said Tompkins.

"It's unfortunate that the taxpayers out here and the voters are not going to have an opportunity to select somebody unless we appeal it to the higher courts so we think the losers here are the public and the voters," said LaJoye, in a post-decision interview.

While both former candidates were unhappy with the outcome of the board's decision, it wasn't reached unanimously.  

"It's so confusing, it's confusing to me," said one board member in support of keeping all four disqualified candidates on the ballot, as she acknowledged that the confusing process for qualifying.

LaJoye says that process was made even harder by the fact that he and other candidates were in the dark about it.

"A candidate needs to be notified to the fact that he doesn't have all his paperwork together, that he has it in on time, that's clear, that's in the law," said LaJoye.

The unusual chain of events has some claiming that there is possible racial discrimination, or even political agenda at stake.

Margaret Jenkins, Chairman of the Board, addressed those claims saying, "They might feel that way, but the board is not a political board, and we abide by the law."

This leaves independent and incumbent Sheirff John Darr eligible come November, but the disqualified candidates still have options to stay in the race.
They can appeal the courts, run as an independent as well, or run as a write-in candidate.

Copyright 2016 WTVM. All rights reserved. 

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