The short-lived candidacy of Lent C. Carr II came to a swift end today when the Wake County elections board ruled that his status as a felon makes him ineligible to run for a seat on the Raleigh City Council.
Carrs name will be removed from the Oct. 11 ballot following a unanimous vote by a three-member elections panel, which needed less than five minutes to reach its decision.
Carr, imprisoned last week for violating the conditions of his parole for a 2000 fraud conviction, did not attend the hearing. But the former minister signaled through a representative that he will fight to keep his candidacy alive.
I am going to continually [sic] to run for City Council for District C, Carr said, according to an email sent by Deltarina Diaz, his secretary. I do not want my name off the ballot!
The challenge to Carrs candidacy came from Bruce Lightner, a Southeast Raleigh community activist and funeral home owner.
I took no personal pleasure in mounting this challenge, Lightner told the board. We feel that having Mr. Carrs name on the ballot would only confuse voters and possibly have an impact if this particular election gets into a runoff.
Carr, 37, was among five candidates challenging incumbent Eugene Weeks. City Council members appointed Weeks last year to complete the unexpired term of James West, who left to join the Wake County Board of Commissioners.
For Carr, Thursdays hearing gave rise to more legal problems.
Carr may have committed a series of Class I felonies by registering to vote in Wake County while he was still on supervised probation, casting a ballot in the November election and updating his address in advance of his candidacy this year, according to documents presented by elections officials.
Federal felons must have been unconditionally discharged to meet the qualifications for voting and seeking office.
The board said it would forward the case to the Wake County District Attorney.
Lightner questioned why Carr was allowed to register as a candidate in the first place. How this happened, how he got through the cracks, is something you all really need to deal with, he said.
Cherie Poucher, director of the Wake County elections board, said her office followed the legal requirements.
It is up to the person registering to vote to complete that application truthfully, she said in an interview. Can you imagine if we had 4,000 applications in a week, that we would have to investigate every one?
Carr has two days to make an appeal to the state Board of Elections. His final option would be to take his case to the state Court of Appeals.
This was the second City Council bid in two years for Carr, who describes himself as an activist for the less fortunate and a man on the move for the people.
Virginia Stanley Tally, a campaign manager for Weeks, watched the hearing from the front row.
Its unfortunate that Mr. Carr has had this happen to him, Tally said afterward. We do know that in the United States, we have to stick by the rules of the law. I think the board handled it in a very dignified way.