Naramore remains on ballot for mayor’s race
by Daniel Gaddy
Aug 03, 2012 | 2039 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Donnie Naramore
Donnie Naramore
The Jasper City Council on Thursday approved an agreement that will end a dispute over Jasper mayoral candidate Donnie Naramore’s candidacy, leaving him on the ballot.

The council also voted for the measure with the understanding that Naramore’s attorney will drop a federal lawsuit against the mayor, the council and a third-party election official.

Naramore’s attorney, Nathan Brock, filed the suit in U.S. District Court on Monday. It asks for the judge to rule that Naramore is a qualified candidate and that the council doesn’t have the authority to disqualify Naramore as a voter or a candidate.

The debate over Naramore’s candidacy concerns the residence he listed in his application for the mayoral race. Throughout the three-week-long dispute, city leaders have said Naramore’s home, which is on Brakefield Dairy Road, is not incorporated into Jasper’s city limits. Though it is surrounded by property annexed into the municipality, they have said it remains an unincorporated island.

On Tuesday, Steve Thomas, a local attorney appointed by the council to rule on Naramore’s candidacy, stated that the candidate should not remain on the ballot.

During Thursday’s special called meeting, however, city attorney Russ Robertson told the council that Brock revealed to him new information concerning the dispute.

Robertson said that a 1987 annexation of several acres of land north of Jasper, which is often referred to as the Farmstead Annexation, included Naramore’s property (though Naramore did not own it at the time).

According to Robertson, only two of the six homeowners on the lot with Naramore’s house signed a petition for annexation. However, Robertson said Brock cited a recent change to Alabama’s code making that fact irrelevant.

The provision, amended in 2011, states that the annexation of any property by a municipality is considered ratified, regardless of any irregularities.

Robertson said there's no question that the annexation of Naramore’s property was defective because all the owners did not sign the petition, “but although the procedure was defective, the annexation is given effect in the statute in all respects as if it was done exactly right."

Robertson added that Naramore’s property is listed as part of the City of Jasper in the council’s district map and the city’s zoning maps.

Robertson said the 2011 law raises other questions about the property that the council will have to address later.

“But the only issue we’ve been sued in federal court over is Mr. Naramore’s residency,” he said.

Robertson asked the council to authorize him to enter into an agreement with Brock, allowing for Naramore to remain on the ballot and the suit to be dropped. Robertson said the approval will be with the understanding that Thomas will reconsider his ruling in light of the new information.

Though council members Gary Cowen and Johnny Rollins were not present for the called meeting, members Sandi Sudduth, Lee Swann and Morris Studdard voted to enter into the agreement.

Brock also made a statement to the council.

“We're delighted that it looks like there is an imminent resolution to this issue, and Mr. Naramore looks forward to focusing on the substantive issues of the election,” he said. “I'd like to thank the council and Mr. Robertson and anyone involved in helping us reach this point."

At the start of the meeting, Robertson told the council that Naramore’s case would qualify as a matter for an executive session. Studdard, however, motioned to discuss the matter in front of the public and the other council members agreed.