PORT ALLEN — Judge J. Robin Free dismissed for lack of evidence Wednesday a lawsuit several residents filed in 18th Judicial District Court challenging the qualifications of a candidate running for mayor of Port Allen.
During a hearing that lasted less than 20 minutes, Free told Frederick Everson, the Port Allen resident leading the group of petitioners, that he failed to prove that candidate Kirby D. Anderson was not a properly registered voter or resident of the city.
Everson and the other plaintiffs had asked the court to remove Anderson from the Nov. 6 primary election ballot because he was granted homestead exemption on a house in East Baton Rouge Parish while maintaining voter status in West Baton Rouge Parish.
Anderson, a 57-year-old Democrat, listed his residential address as 1120 Michigan Ave., Port Allen, when he qualified to run in the election for mayor of Port Allen.
The suit filed Aug. 24 claimed that state law requires that a person be a registered voter in the precinct in which the voter’s tax-exempted property is situated.
Everson, 62, tried but failed to present the court Wednesday with a photocopied assessment certificate from the East Baton Rouge Parish Assessor’s Office detailing a recent homestead exemption granted to Anderson and his wife for a residence they own at 784 Flats Way Drive in Baton Rouge.
Free told Everson the certificate was not admissible in court because the duplicated assessment certificate wasn’t certified.
“Anything other than a certified public record is considered hearsay,” Free explained.
When Everson was unable to present the court with further evidence, Free granted a request by Anderson’s attorney to dismiss the case.
Anderson said afterward he was confident that he would prevail at the hearing because he had followed all laws and procedures required to qualify for the election.
“I always try to follow the law,” he said.
Anderson said previously that the Port Allen address he used to qualify for the race belongs to his parents. Anderson said he moved there and changed his address to care for his ailing mother.
Everson said following the hearing that Free failed to rule on the overall question he was trying to get answered by the court: Can a person claim homestead exemption in one city but still be a registered voter, and run for office, in another?
“Basically, it seems like anyone from anywhere can come and run for office in the city of Port Allen,” Everson said.
Free had told Everson in an aside statement during the hearing that legal precedent states that election laws should be “liberally construed” to promote rather than curtail a person’s candidacy.
Anderson faces fellow Democrats Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter and incumbent Roger Bergeron in the mayor’s race.