McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

February 18, 2013

Haileyville, Tucker wins by default

Associated Press

McALESTER — And the winner is ... Tina Tucker. Tucker emerged victorious following a hearing held by the Pittsburg County Election Board on Wednesday in which she challenged the candidacy of her opponent for the office of Haileyville city clerk/treasurer.

Minutes before the hearing began, Tucker sat in the gallery of Courtroom No. 1 at the Pittsburg County Courthouse with her daughter-in-law, Loretta French. At the front of the courtroom, Pittsburg County Election Board Secretary Cathy Thornton briefly conferred with District 18 District Attorney Farley Ward.

On the other side of the table, Pittsburg County Election Board members Ted Kennedy and Clare Thomas, who respectively represent the Republican and Democratic parties for the election board, looked over the filings in the case.

Thornton called the hearing after Tucker filed paperwork contesting the candidacy of fellow candidate Valerie Bristow for the Haileyville city clerk/treasurer’s office. Tucker contended that Bristow should not be on the ballot, because she maintained Bristow had not been a registered voter in Haileyville for at least six months prior to filing as a candidate for the post, as Haileyville’s election resolution required.

As the hearing commenced, Thornton asked Tucker if she had proof of service that Bristow had been given legal notice of the hearing. Tucker said she had and produced the required documents. The hearing had been slated to begin at 1:30 p.m. and the election board noticed that 5 minutes had elapsed and Bristow still had not shown up to answer Tucker’s challenge.

Ward, who serves as the election board’s legal adviser, told the board that meant Tucker would win her challenge by default. Kennedy made a motion to strike Bristow’s name from the ballot, with Thomas and Thornton joining him to cast votes in the affirmative.

The race for the Haileyville city clerk-treasurer’s office would have been held April 2, if more than one candidate had been on the ballot. However, Tucker and Bristow had been the only two candidates to file for the office. “Tina, you will go into the office unopposed,” Thornton said.

Ward summarized the results of the hearing. “Ms. Bristow’s name will be removed from the ballot and Ms. Tucker will be unopposed.” Tucker said she’s served as Haileyville city clerk-treasurer since Feb. 13, 2012, appointed by the city council to fill a vacancy in the office until the next election.

The Pittsburg County Election Board’s decision means Tucker has now won a four-year term in the post in her right, since she’s now assuming the office without an opposing candidate on the ballot for the April election.

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