Judge affirms residency for Arkansas House hopeful

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A Pulaski County judge has affirmed the residency of a northeast Arkansas candidate running for the state House of Representatives.

A lawsuit filed against Wes Wagner alleged that he didn't live in the district he wished to represent. But a judge on Wednesday ruled that Wagner has lived in Manila for the past year, making him eligible to run for the House seat being vacated by his mother, Rep. Charolette Wagner.

Wes Wagner, a Democrat, is running unopposed in the November election.

A lawsuit filed by a Mississippi County resident claims that Wes Wagner listed undeveloped farmland as his home address and doesn't really live in District 54.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports (http://is.gd/3CtW4I ) that after a nine-hour hearing Wednesday, Judge Wendell Griffen found that Wagner satisfied the residency requirement.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

MANILA, AR (KAIT) - A Manila resident has filed a lawsuit claiming a candidate running for a State Representative position is not eligible to represent the district.

Chris Gamble filed the lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court against Wes Wagner, a Democrat who is running unopposed for the position of State Representative for District 54 located in Mississippi County, Arkansas.


According to the lawsuit, Gamble claims "Wes Wagner, a licensed practicing attorney in the State of Arkansas, is attempting to defraud the State of Arkansas and the voters of District 54 by falsely claiming to be a resident of Manila, Arkansas by using his law office P.O. Box and undeveloped farm land as his residence. "It's not right," Gamble said.  "He claims that his residence is in Manila."


According to Arkansas Constitution, State Representative candidates have to live in the district they want to represent for at least one year before running.


Gamble claims Wagner lives in a house located at 4409 Lochmoore Circle in the Sage Meadows neighborhood.  "I have personally seen him at that address," said Gamble.


No one answered the door when Region 8 News went to 4409 Lochmoor Circle, the address listed on a 2010 Candidate Information form Wagner filed in 2010 when he unsuccessfully ran for the position of Craighead County District 76 State Representative.


Region 8 News also searched for 838 Highway 77 North, the Manila address Wagner listed when he filed in February 2012 as a candidate for State Representative for Mississippi County.


An 844 address was located on Highway 77, next to an 833 address.


A vacant field was found between the two addresses.


Region 8 News called Wagner to ask him about his primary residence. He e-mailed a response, saying:


"I am fully aware of the residency requirements to run for office; therefore, I have no doubt I have been, and obviously I am, a current resident of District 54. I have the utmost confidence that this lawsuit has no merit; this is merely a jealousy issue not a residency issue. More importantly, I am very excited and consider it an honor to represent all the constituents in District 54 in the state legislature starting in January 2013."


"The jealousy thing is funny. That's hilarious. I don't know what I'd be jealous for," Gamble said.


Also listed as defendants in the lawsuit are the Mississippi County Election Commission, Mississippi County Clerk Lib Shippen and Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin.


According to the lawsuit, Gamble has several requests:


1.     a judgement declaring Wes Wagner "ineligible for candidacy as State Representative for District 54;"

2.     a judicial order mandating state officials exclude Wagner from November 6 election ballots and nullify any votes Wagner gained in the 2012 primary election,

3.     an expedited hearing,

4.     and a mandate for state officials to either allow the votes of write-in candidates be certified when tabulating the election results, or to hold a special election for a replacement candidate before the November 6 general election.


Region 8 News will continue to track this story for the latest details.

Copyright 2012 KAIT. All rights reserved.