Elections board to weigh Raleigh candidate's fate

Staff writerAugust 16, 2011 

  • The Wake County Board of Elections will meet at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in the ground-floor small conference room at the Wake County Office Building, 337 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh.

Wake County elections officials are trying to determine whether Lent C. Carr II, the recently imprisoned Raleigh City Council candidate, can stay on the October ballot.

Carr, one of six candidates seeking the District C seat, was sentenced Thursday to seven months in federal prison for violating the conditions of his parole for a 2000 fraud conviction. When voters go to the polls Oct. 11, Carr will be behind bars.

Bruce Lightner, a Southeast Raleigh community activist and funeral home owner, challenged Carr's candidacy on the grounds that Carr, 37, was still on parole when he registered to vote. Federal felons must have been unconditionally discharged to meet the qualifications for seeking office.

A decision belongs to the three-member Wake County Board of Elections, which will hear arguments Thursday and then hold its deliberations in public.

Voters have enough to worry about, Lightner said Monday. Five other candidates are vying for District C, which covers Southeast Raleigh. Incumbent Eugene Weeks faces challengers Corey D. Branch, Shelia Lucas Jones, Paul Terrell and Racquel Williams - and possibly Carr, a former pastor who identifies himself as a counselor to homeless veterans of the Iraq war.

"As crowded as the field is already, what we don't need is confusion about a candidate," Lightner said. "If he siphons off any votes from the people who would be able to serve, that would be unfortunate."

Lightner said he has no plans to endorse a candidate for District C. The longtime community activist is the son of the late Clarence Light ner, the city's first black mayor.

Council members appointed Weeks last year to complete the unexpired term of James West, who left to join the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

Weeks declined to say Monday whether he thinks Carr should remain on the ballot.

"I'm sorry for this young man," Weeks said. "I hated to see this have to come out. All I can say is, I'm lifting him up in prayer."

On a campaign website, Carr describes himself as an activist for the less fortunate and "a man on the move for the people."

At the hearing Thursday, the burden of proof will be on Carr to show why he should be allowed to remain on the ballot, said Cherie Poucher, executive director of the Board of Elections.

Poucher said she notified Carr about the hearing through the U.S. Marshal's Office. It's up to Carr to arrange for someone to represent him, she said.

matt.garfield@newsobserver.com or 919-836-4952

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