JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A dispute over who won the Democratic nomination for a Hinds County supervisor seat could soon be decided by a judge because one of the candidates claims the other doesn’t live in the district he wants to represent.
State law requires that county supervisor candidates live in the district they want to represent.
Voters in the August primary runoff election narrowly chose David Archie over incumbent Darrel McQuirter for the District 2 seat.
Less than a month later, McQuirter filed a petition to challenge the results of that election with the Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee and followed that up with another filing in Hinds County Circuit Court.
Archie, who’s no stranger to running for political office, has run for supervisor, justice court judge, city councilman and even mayor, according to a 3 On Your Side analysis of county election records and news archives.
All of those attempts ended unsuccessfully until this year.
Those records show Archie put down 3426 Shady Oaks Street as his residential address each time he ran for office since 2013.
McQuirter’s court filing totals 200 pages, detailing how he believes Archie actually lives at 5852 Clubview Drive, located in District 1.
One court filing from an insurance company suit describes Archie cleaning the swimming pool at his residence over the past ten years.
That swimming pool only exists at the Clubview Drive residence, which is listed on the paperwork as Archie’s residence.
3 On Your Side researched county land roll records and found that Archie has claimed homestead exemption on the Clubview Drive home since 2007.
The homestead requirements on the Hinds County website state that, to qualify, one “must own and occupy the property as your primary domicile and legal residence for all purposes whatsoever.”
State law defines homestead as the dwelling “actually occupied as the primary home of a family group.”
3 On Your Side attempted to reach Archie by phone twice -- one number was no longer in service -- and also asked about an interview with Archie through his attorney, Dennis Sweet, but Sweet did not provide that.
Sweet, who declined an on-camera interview but spoke freely about the case, said the mortgage on the Clubview Drive home is under Archie’s wife’s name, not his.
Sweet also maintains his client has voted 33 times -- using the Shady Oaks Street address -- because that’s where he lives.
Photos of that house, purportedly taken one week after Archie won the runoff election, show what looks like an abandoned property: overgrown vegetation, no furniture on the inside, and sheet rock that has collapsed on the floor.
Sweet said those photographs shouldn’t even be admissible because someone had to go inside the home for some of them, which would be considered trespassing.
Documents in McQuirter’s petition also show the home hasn’t used any power or water for some time.
Photos from August 29 show the house’s power meter disconnected, but 3 On Your Side found what appeared to be a functioning meter at the home in October.
Water bills -- obtained by McQuirter and his attorney -- show no usage at the residence for almost two years, going back to December 2017.
Those bills do have a past due balance, suggesting at one time someone lived there, but the paperwork doesn’t specify when that would have taken place.
The court documents also introduce a jury summons sent to Archie’s Shady Oaks address and a confirmation card sent by the county’s election commission, both returned as undeliverable.
The petition states Archie’s voter registration was made inactive last year because of it.
Last week, members of the Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee held a hearing to determine whether Archie would remain the Democratic nominee, two weeks after McQuirter contested the election by filing a challenge against Archie.
When asked what justification Archie gave for not living in the Shady Oaks home, committee chair Jacquie Amos said they told her Archie was renovating it.
“His sister got sick or ill or something, and it was under renovation," Amos said.
Amos said the committee voted 5-1 in favor of reaffirming the decision by the voters.
“Obviously what transpired in executive session stays there, but just so you understand, you have to hear both sides. You look at the weight of the evidence and so on and so forth, except this is a little bit different, because we’re talking about an election and we have laws that are set, that we must follow," Amos said.
Amos made clear before the interview and during that the committee’s decision to reaffirm the decision does not mean they determined Archie lives at the Shady Oaks address.
She also elaborated on what “reaffirmed” means in this case.
“We reaffirmed the voters, the vote, and the decision in the primary runoff, and it stands as-is," Amos said.
3 On Your Side asked Amos why Archie was reaffirmed, despite the evidence presented to the committee.
“Because our job -- we found it very important -- that we hold the will of the people sacred. They entrusted their votes on both sides with the process, and so that was the sticking point. We honestly believed that was important to make sure that the voters knew how we held their vote, and we held it high. Also, knowing that they’re going to court anyway, there’s going to be another judgment, and we’ll deal with that when it comes around," Amos said.
Amos said it’s not the committee’s job to follow a candidate around to make sure they live where they say, but they did listen to the evidence presented and made a decision.
“There were 3,800 people that said they wanted David Archie, right? 50.73 percent, and that’s out of that runoff. So who is supposed to tell those 3,800 people their vote didn’t count?”
McQuirter released a statement to WLBT Wednesday evening.
“As a citizen, as a candidate and as a sitting supervisor, I have an obligation to assure that Hinds County District 2 is represented by a resident of District 2," McQuirter said.
3 On Your Side reached out to McQuirter’s attorney, Sam Begley, but Begley declined an on-camera interview.