JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - An impromptu meeting Friday morning with a Hinds County Democratic election subcommittee -- triggered by information 3 On Your Side discovered -- now raises residency concerns about Colendula Green’s candidacy for sheriff.
The document, obtained by 3 On Your Side, shows Green filed for homestead exemption in 2011 for a house in Pearl, and has allowed it to renew each year since that filing.
State law defines homestead as the dwelling “actually occupied as the primary home of a family group,” which implies Green would be a Rankin County resident even though she’s running for Hinds County sheriff.
Election commission employees with Hinds County and Jacquie Amos, chair of the Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee, both agree that homestead exemption doesn’t completely prove residency, but it is a very strong indicator, and after seeing what 3 On Your Side found, they had reason to question Green’s candidacy and her voter registration.
Hinds County voter registration records list a Jackson home address for Green which points to a residence she does not own, according to land-roll records with the county.
Amos said they can’t remove Green as a candidate because the qualifying and challenge deadlines have already passed.
If that homestead exemption had been introduced beforehand, Amos said they would have been able to take action.
“We would have had two options: one, not to certify her, right? And allow -- give her the opportunity, obviously, to go to court to be placed on the ballot," Amos said.
However, Green would also have had an opportunity to present evidence to support a Jackson residency claim, according to Leah Rupp Smith, a spokesperson for the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office.
That other evidence could include utility bills, bank statements, lease agreements, or even where children are enrolled, Smith said.
“Homestead exemption creates a rebuttable presumption of residency, which can be rebutted by other evidence,” Smith added.
Amos said no one had mentioned this to them, and they had no reason to doubt the candidate when they interviewed her.
“No challenge was brought to us regarding this, or else we would have heard it. So no petition was filed. I have spoken with her, the candidate, just to give her a heads up that this was coming down, and I know she’s going to do everything she needs to do to handle it," Amos said.
When asked about the homestead exemption by phone, Green initially told us to contact her legal counsel, but those attorneys both told us they do not represent her.
Green provided a statement after we informed her of what they said.
“I am properly qualified to run for sheriff in Hinds County,” Green said.
Green hasn’t given any indication she would withdraw from the race.
She and seven other Democrats will compete in the August 6 primary.