A Fayette Circuit Judge has scheduled a hearing next month to determine whether incumbent Councilwoman Shevawn Akers has met the qualifications to run for office on Nov. 4.
Fayette Circuit Judge Thomas Clark scheduled the hearing for Oct. 3.
Challenger Michael Stuart, a first-time candidate, filed a lawsuit on Sept. 5, alleging that Akers did not have the required 100 signatures of people living in her district. Additionally, Stuart also alleges that Akers failed to meet the residency requirements. The complaint alleges that Akers listed on documents an address outside of her district six months before filing to run for re-election. The city's charter says a candidate must live for six months in the district before filing.
The lawsuit alleges that Akers has only 92 eligible signatures, eight fewer than needed. The lawsuit says that of the 151 signatures on Akers' candidacy petition, 59 should be disqualified because they were forged, they were printed but not signed, they were ineligible, or they were by people who either weren't registered to vote or didn't live in the district.
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On Aug. 29, Akers was placed in a diversion program for charges related to improprieties regarding the signatures on her candidacy petition. Her lawyer has said the problems stemmed from a clerical mistake.
The Second District is on the city's northwest side and includes Masterson Station and Meadowthorpe.
The race is nonpartisan. Akers, who was first elected in 2012, received the most votes in the May primary. Stuart was second, allowing him to advance to the Nov. 4 general election.
Akers has called the lawsuit "frivolous" and an "attempt to silence voters."
Akers, in a response filed Friday, denies the allegations and maintains that she has more than the 100 signatures needed to run for office. Don Todd, Akers' lawyer, said in the response filed Friday that Stuart's challenge to Akers' candidacy was filed too late. Akers "received the highest number of votes in the primary and has been certified by the Board of Election as the winner of the primary," Todd wrote. Stuart has "therefore failed to timely assert his challenge."
Akers already has been certified as a candidate. If Stuart's challenge is successful, Akers' name will appear on the ballot but votes cast for her will not be counted, said Christy Trout, who represents Stuart.