Politics & Government

Appeals court: Lexington Council candidate can’t run. Find out why.

A three-judge panel of the Kentucky Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s ruling that struck a Lexington 8th Council District candidate from the ballot.

That means incumbent Lexington-Fayette Urban County Councilman Fred Brown is almost guaranteed to win the Nov. 6 general election for the council district, which includes an area south of New Circle Road between Tates Creek Road and Alumni Drive.

Brown filed a lawsuit in Fayette Circuit Court in July challenging the validity of the 100 signatures of registered voters collected by Christian Motley, a first-time candidate.

Fayette Circuit Court Judge Ernesto Scorsone ruled last month in Brown’s favor. In the ruling, Scrosone said of the 116 people who signed Motley’s petition to run, only 93 were valid signatures, leaving him seven short of the required 100 signatures of registered voters.

Scorsone ruled that it was up to Motley to prove the validity of signatures that were difficult to read. Motley was able to prove two of those difficult-to-read signatures were people who lived in the district, but not nine others, Scorsone found. Another five people who signed the petition did not live in the 8th District and three registered to vote in the district after signing the petition, which is not allowed.

Motley appealed Scorsone’s decision to the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

In a decision released Wednesday, a three-judge panel upheld Scorsone’s decision in whole — disqualifying 23 of Motley’s signatures.

“The Court of Appeals agreed with Judge Scorsone’s ruling and our argument on every single issue presented,” said Alex Scutchfield, a lawyer for Brown. “Clearly, nothing about the opinion will be disturbed on appeal. It’s time to move on.”

Anna Whites, an attorney for Motley, said her client is considering running in the race as a write-in candidate.

Motley’s name will still be on the Nov. 6 ballot because they are prepared weeks prior to the election. Signs will be posted in precincts saying that votes cast for Motley will not be counted, Blevins said.

Brown, an accountant, served on the council from 1994 to 2004. He was elected again in 2014 and 2016. The race is non-partisan, but Brown is a Republican and Motley is a Democrat.

Motley has worked in education at the state and federal level and now works for an education nonprofit.

Brown has not raised any money in the race. Motley had raised $20,396 and had more than $15,572 on hand, according to a July 21 report filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.