In response to citizen complaints about the legitimacy of two candidates running for election this November, the Newton City Council will hold a special meeting Wednesday, Sept. 27 to decide which one of them will serve on the objection committee. The committee’s rulings could remove candidates from the ballot.
The meeting will be held at noon at Newton City Hall.
Newton News previously reported about community members’ concerns regarding Barney Bushore and Julia Prendergast running for specific ward seats on the city council when they own residences that are outside city limits. When questioned, both did not deny they have properties in the country.
However, they were both adamant they live in the homes located in the respective wards they are wanting to represent.
Prendergast is running against incumbent Mark Hallam for Ward 1. Bushore is running against candidate Stacy Simbro for the Ward 3 seat, which is currently held by council member Craig Trotter who is not seeking re-election. Both Bushore and Prendergast announced their candidacies at a private event.
Immediately following the event, the Jasper County Auditor’s Office and other county officials began getting calls from citizens inquiring about the would-be candidates’ residency requirements. Jasper County Auditor Jenna Jennings told callers the county is not the filing officer for the school and city elections.
Although the auditor’s office is in charge of organizing and running elections, deputy auditor Taylor Springer said they cannot deter any person from running. However, citizens can file objections to any candidate. Jennings said any candidate objections must be filed with the respective city or school.
The objection deadline was today, Sept. 26.
Newton News learned four objections were filed with the city clerk in Newton: one for Ward 1 and three for Ward 3.
The objection committee consists of the mayor, the city clerk and one city council member. They will decide whether objections are legitimate; if the committee says they are, the candidates will be removed from the ballot.