Ousted Sheriff candidates fight for qualification in court

Published: May. 16, 2016 at 9:29 PM EDT|Updated: Jan. 10, 2017 at 3:42 PM EST
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Two disqualified candidates aiming for the job of Muscogee County Sheriff appeared in court Monday afternoon, appealing the decision made by the Board of Elections to disqualify them weeks ago.

On Monday, a judge heard arguments from both attorneys representing Donna Thompkins and Mark LaJoye.

The judge now has a few days to decide the appeal.

"Without taking bets on what's going on, I felt very encouraged with this judge this morning that he's definitely going to be very thorough in his decision when he looks at it," said LaJoye after his appearance.

The two ousted candidates once again explained how they thought all their paperwork was in on time... a confusion in the qualification process which lead to four candidates being disqualified this year.

The disqualification of Thompkins and LaJoye, as well as Pamela Brown and Robert Smith, has left incumbent Sheriff John Darr as the only remaining contender in the race as of now.

All candidates kicked off the ballot over paperwork and deadlines could technically still run as an independent come November during the general election, but it's a process LaJoye wants to avoid.

"That's his party, he wants to run as a Republican. To do the Independent thing is very difficult. You have to go out, get 5,000 some odd signatures, they have to not be outside the box, if one's outside the box the whole page gets disqualified, I mean you wouldn't believe how much of a pain it is to do that, plus pay several more thousand dollars," said attorney Mark Shelnutt, representing LaJoye.

Shelnutt argued that the election board was required to notify candidates of missing paperwork, and doesn't understand why the board isn't as rigid on their end as they expected candidates to be.

Representatives from the Board of Elections say they will obey whatever the judge decides but they're holding off on further comment until a decision is reached.

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