Pitt Co. commissioner keeps seat despite challenge

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A Pitt County commissioner kept his seat Thursday after the Board of Elections unanimously dismissed a residency complaint from a local activist.

Keith Cooper argued at a board hearing that Commissioner David Hammond has not lived in a home listed in his District 1A voter registration for 30 consecutive days which is required to qualify to vote under election laws.

Hammond had a stroke in 2010 and has since been recovering at Golden Living Center, a specialty nursing center located outside of his district.

“You’re not qualified to vote, then you’re not qualified to represent that particular district,” Cooper said.

 

WNCT first reported Cooper’s complain who said it started with an e-mail from another Pitt County commissioner, Charles Farley, who questioned Hammond’s residency.

“I believe by my opinion of living and sleeping somewhere, no,” Farley said on whether he believed Hammond resided in his district.

Commissioner Hammond and his daughter and caretaker, Esther, argued they intended for him to return home once he recovered from his stroke.

“I just think it’s disgraceful that he has to be sitting in a chair to go through this issue publicly like this,” Esther Hammond said.

The three-member Board of Elections sided with the Hammond family.

“If family members have resided in a certain place for 30 or more days, that’s enough to establish a residency there,” Mark Stewart, Board of Elections member, said. “If someone intends to move there with their family, then that’s enough.”

 

 

Cooper disagreed with that reasoning saying the board’s rationale goes against what the law states and what other court cases ruled.

He has 10 days to decide if he will appeal this decision to superior court.

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