Meridian Star

March 26, 2013

City lawsuit may keep Jennings off ballot for mayor

By Terri Ferguson Smith /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     A Democratic candidate for mayor may not be able to run after all.

    Randle Jennings, who announced his candidacy earlier this month, is not on the list of candidates certified by the Meridian Democratic Municipal Election Committee.

    The Democratic committee submitted its list of candidates for the Democratic primary on Monday. Candidates listed for mayor are Rod Amos and Percy Bland.

    John Flowers, chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee, said the decision was based on information received as a result of a routine background check,     which brought out Jennings' problems with the city that resulted in a lawsuit.

    "We made the decision based on the information that we were given," Flowers said. "The information was given to us by the City Clerk's office. From the information that he gave us about Mr. Jennings, on the surface, it looks like he didn't qualify."

    If Jennings asks for a hearing to refute the claims, he will be granted one, Flowers said.

    Jennings said he had not yet received a letter from the party about the issue, but he understood that letters were mailed out Monday.

    "I'd rather wait until I get the letter before I comment on it," Jennings said by telephone.

    According to court records, Jennings owes the city some $18,000 for funding he received for a youth program that never got off the ground. When the after school program did not materialize, the city filed a lawsuit and got a judgment demanding he repay the money.

    Jennings has already paid $4,800 back, but the remaining balance has grown to about $18,000 because of interest, penalties and court costs. The lawsuit and collection on the debt have been the subject of court hearings and a judgment debtor's examination last November during which Jennings was told he still owed $18,000 to the city.

    The state law that the party is referring to in denying Jennings a place on the ballot is: "No person liable as principal for public moneys unaccounted for shall be eligible to a seat in either house of the legislature, or to any office of profit or trust, until he shall have accounted for and paid over all sums for which he may have been liable."

    Other Democratic candidates who will be on the ballot are:


    Ward One - Martin M. Jack

    Ward Two - Nathaniel L. Pringle Jr., Mary A.B. Perry, Terry L. Stennis, and Kenneth Dustin Markham,

    Ward Four - Jesse E. Palmer Sr., Craig E. Houston, John H. Nelson Jr., and Kim Houston,

    Ward Five - John C. Harris.

    There are no Democratic candidates in Ward Three, which is represented by Barbara Henson, the only Republican to qualify as a candidate.

    Three candidates have withdrawn from the election over the last couple of weeks. Republican for Ward One, Brian Keith McCary and Democrat Ronnie Obenhaus Jr. for Ward One have withdrawn. Democrat Albert "Brick" Emerson has withdrawn from the Ward Five council race.

    The Republican party sent its list of candidates to City Hall on Monday. They are:

    Mayor, Cheri M. Barry and William Bond Compton,

    Ward One - George M. Thomas,

    Ward Three - Barbara Henson,

    Ward Five - Randy Hammon and Bobby R. Smith,

    There are no Republican candidates in Ward Two and Ward Four.

    Independent candidates will not have a primary but will face off in the general election on June 4. The party primaries are scheduled for May 7 with runoffs on May 21.