Special panel rules candidate ineligible for state Senate seat

By on April 12, 2018

Richard Steve James

A Democratic candidate who filed to run for the First District seat in the N.C. Senate has been found ineligible by a special panel of election board members from across the eleven county district.

The group met at the Historic Currituck Courthouse Thursday morning to rule on a challenge of the residency of Richard S. “Steve” James, who claimed he lived in Hertford County when he registered to vote last fall.

James listed 600 North Metcalf Street in Winton as his residence, the same address as Alfiniti Precision Tube, a manufacturer of extruded and drawn aluminum tubing of which he is vice president, when he registered to vote in Hertford County on Oct. 12, 2017.

He filed to run for state Senate on Feb. 26. The day after, D. Cole Phelps of Creswell signed up to run.

Donna Steigleman, a Democrat from Currituck County, filed the challenge petition with the Hertford County Board of Elections on March 12, stating James does not reside at, or has intentions to move to, an address in Winton.

North Carolina statutes lay the burden of proof on the candidate to refute the claims of the petition, but James did not appear at the hearing Thursday and has not corresponded with elections officials about the challenge.

“The written decision is currently being drafted by our county attorney,” said Currituck County Board of Elections director Sydni B. Banks. “As far as the next step, the written order will be served to Mr. James.”

James will then have 48 hours to appeal the ruling with the state Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.

Because ballots for the May 8 primary have been printed, include some that have already been sent to those casting absentee votess, James’ name will still be on the ballot.

Election laws dictate that if James were to still win the primary, the Democratic Party executive committee of Senate District 1 would then choose the nominee.

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