The Long County Board of Elections heard challenges Wednesday to three candidates’ qualifications to run in upcoming elections, but no decisions were made Thursday.
According to Long County Board of Election Chairwoman Vanessa Cunningham incumbent state court Judge Jeffery Arnold, incumbent Sheriff Craig Nobles and tax commissioner challenger Deona Carter had been challenged.
Arnold was challenged on whether he had lived in the county for the required two years by Jacqueline Youmans, who was not at the hearing. Attorney Craig Stafford spoke on Arnold’s behalf and brought Lindsey Gaskin, who said she lives in Liberty County and that Youmans had been her roommate for at least three months. Gaskin told the board that Youmans had told her she had been asked to file the challenge by someone named “Theresa.”
Stafford said Youman was not qualified to make the challenge since she didn’t live in the county and asked that the challenge be dismissed. Hearing officer Jay Swindell, however, said information would be taken into consideration.
Arnold said he lives at 348 East Cypress St., which he bought in August 2010 prior to being appointed to his position on Aug. 16, 2010. He said that he was assigned in Washington, D.C., during the final months of his military career prior to retiring in 2011, but that even during this time he considered Long County his home. Stafford also noted that since was military service it could not be held against Arnold in regards to the residency issue. Arnold also told the board that he and his wife bought 40 acres in Long County with the intent of having a home built.
“I don’t know what more I could have done” Arnold said.
Nobles was challenged on his residency by Darrell Ballance. Though Ballance was at the hearing, he did not speak. Attorney Billy Jones represented the sheriff. Nobles had Bobby Parker, Luther Reddish and Michael Howard all say they were his neighbors in Long County.
Nobles said he previously lived in Tattnall County, but had moved to 556 Beard’s Bluff Road NW in December 2009. Jones presented an affidavit from Sandra Spikes, an employee in the Tattnall County tax commissioner’s office, saying Nobles had asked his homestead exemption there be ended in January 2010, but that it had not been because of a mistake. Jones also presented copies of Nobles’ electric bills, driver’s license, post office change of address request form and voting registration forms from 2010 and 2011 showing a Long County residence.
The challenge of Carter by Brooke Manning questioned whether Carter had been convicted of a felony. Manning said an incident between her brother Alec Manning and Carter in December 2009 resulted in charges made against Carter.
Swindell presented a copy of a Long County Sheriff’s Office incident report. It said Carter was accused of pointing or aiming a pistol at another person, which according to the sheriff’s office would be a misdemeanor.
Carter said, “I spoke to an attorney. It is a pending matter, and I’m innocent until proven guilty.”
Besides Swindel, Nancy McKnew and Mildred Hopkins are on the board.