Council candidate unsure whether he qualified

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
March 9, 2001
A hopeful city council candidate in Ward 5 is awaiting word about whether he has qualified for the June 6 general election.
Todd Vallot is running for the seat, now occupied by Republican Bobby Smith. Vallot, an Independent, said Thursday he has received conflicting reports from city officials about whether the signatures on his petition have been verified as registered voters of Ward 5.
Vallot said he received a letter from the city the following day which outlined tips and rules which candidates should keep in mind when displaying campaign posters.
Independent candidates for office must have at least 50 signatures of registered voters on a petition in order to qualify to run for a municipal office. Vallot said he included almost 70 names to give him a "buffer zone" in case there were any problems with signatures.
Ed Skipper, Meridian's director of finance and records, said the process city workers are going through on Vallot's application is routine. Skipper said officials take the job of qualifying candidates very seriously, and if there is any question of impropriety, it must be reviewed.
Once Independent candidates turn in their petitions, Skipper said, city employees begin a tedious, time-consuming task of checking the names on the petition to make sure the individuals are registered voters and then begin cross-checking the signatures.
Vallot said he isn't shocked to learn that some of the signatures on his petition don't look exactly like the ones on the voter applications.
City officials are quick to point out that the fact Vallot has not yet officially qualified doesn't necessarily mean his name won't be on the June 6 ballot.
Situations like Vallot's are turned over to a city election commissioner, who investigates and determines whether candidates can be certified to participate in the election.
The qualifying deadline for municipal elections was March 2. Party primaries are set for May 1 with run-off elections scheduled for two weeks later. The general election is June 6.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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