The Shawnee News-Star
  • Hearing for Shawnee Ward 5 candidacy issue reconvenes today

  • A hearing that began Wednesday before the Pottawatomie County Election Board for a Contest of Candidacy in the Ward 5 Shawnee city commission race will reconvene at 1:30 p.m. today.
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  • A hearing that began Wednesday before the Pottawatomie County Election Board for a Contest of Candidacy in the Ward 5 Shawnee city commission race will reconvene at 1:30 p.m. today.
    A series of events led to a recess on Wednesday, with the Contest of Candidacy involving questions over the residence of John Winterringer, 48, the incumbent candidate who filed to retain the Ward 5 seat.
    During the filing period earlier this month, Lesa Shaw, 53, filed a Declaration of Candidacy seeking that seat, and on the last day of the filing period, she contested Winterringer’s candidacy because of his place of residence.
    That filing notes that while he owns the home on Mesa Verde Street in Ward 5, Winterringer hasn’t resided there in the past year.
    The hearing began Wednesday before the three-panel Election Board Wednesday, with District Attorney Richard Smothermon serving as counsel.
    Attorney Bruce V. Winston, Oklahoma City, represented Shaw while Winterringer’s counsel was Julie Landes of Shawnee.
    Each attorney was allowed 10 minutes for opening statements. Winston noted that Shaw, who lives about a block away from Winterringer’s listed address, became aware last Fall that Winterringer does not reside at the home on Mesa Verde Street, which she confirmed with her neighbors, including the neighborhood association president.
    With that knowledge, she filed for the Ward 5 seat, Winston said, adding, she was “quite frankly surprised” when Winterringer filed to retain his seat.
    “The evidence is that he is not a resident of Ward 5 and as such he is not qualified to be a candidate,” Winston said.
    In an opening statement on Winterringer’s behalf, Landes said they feel Winterringer is a resident of the ward.
    “His living arrangement, at most, is temporary,” Landes said, explaining that Winterringer is temporarily helping his mother care for his father, who is in failing health.
    “It’s always been a temporary situation,” she said.
    Landes then questioned whether there was proper serving of paperwork to Winterringer about the hearing, noting that Winterringer should have been served papers no later than 5 p.m. April 12 but he wasn’t served until after 5 p.m. on April 15.
    “That’s 72 hours over deadline,” she said.
    Smothermon, who said if questions over paper service was an issue, suggested it would be best to recess for a day or two and return for further on the hearing.
    Smothermon, who briefly spoke with both attorneys privately, said it was agreed the hearing would be recessed; two witnesses who didn’t appear happy about being subpoenaed for testimony in the matter also were released to leave, pursuant to stipulation of their testimony, Smothermon said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Although they waived the required time limit for a hearing, Smothermon asked for the hearing to be held as quickly as possible because of the election process. Dates in May were discussed but Smothermon said it needed to be held much sooner.
    “We can’t print ballots until this is decided,” Smothermon said. “You're holding up state elections and at some point that will be costly.”
    The primary election is June 24, and Election Board officials can’t print any of Pottawatomie County's election ballots for that election until the situation in the Ward 5 race is resolved.
    After not being able to decide on any other dates, it was agreed the hearing would reconvene today.
    Watch for further in Friday’s edition.
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