- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. (AP) - A residency fight in Senate District 10 appears headed to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Retired Judge Frank Vollor, appointed to hear the case, ruled last week that two-term incumbent Bill Stone is a legal resident of Holly Springs in Marshall County and is eligible to compete in the Aug. 4 Democratic primary against first-term incumbent Steve Hale of Senatobia.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports (https://bit.ly/1QNInQT ) Hale had challenged Stone’s residency in the Senate district. Hale argued Stone lived in Ashland in Benton County, not in Holly Springs.

Hale said he will ask the Supreme Court to overturn Vollor’s ruling.

“We will accept whatever decision comes out of that,” said Hale, who said he was not going to comment further on the issue while it is in court.

In a statement, Stone said, “We are hoping for a quick resolution so we can, as I stated in my testimony at the hearing, get on with the business of continuing our work representing my current constituents in Marshall, Benton and Tippah counties while continuing to meet new friends in Tate County that I look forward to serving in the coming years.”

No Republican or third party candidate is running in District 10. The winner of the Democratic primary will hold the seat for the next four years.

The Hale-Stone election contest was created after the Republican-controlled Legislature approved a redistricting plan in 2012 that changed the districts for the two incumbent Democratic senators.

Hale’s current District 10, which changes with this year’s elections, was all of Panola and Tate counties. Stone’s District 2 was all of Marshall and Benton counties and a portion of Tippah.

Under the new plan, District 10 now is comprised solely of Marshall and Tate counties.

A candidate must be a resident of the district for two years before an election.

Stone said he moved to Holly Springs in time to run in the new District 10. He said during a court hearing he canceled his homestead exemption on his residence in Ashland, where he once served as mayor, and changed his voter registration to Marshall County.

Hale argued that for much of those two years, Stone actually was continuing to live in Ashland and had a fake residence in Holly Springs. When Stone first moved to Holly Springs, he was renting a residency from his brother. He has since purchased a home in Marshall County and now files homestead exemption there.

Vollor said it was clear that Stone still has property in Benton and visits there on a regular basis. But he said owning property outside the district does not disqualify him from running for the post.

___

Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com


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