Knox disqualified for Hale race

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 26, 2004

The Hale County Democratic Executive Committee voted 8-2 Friday night to disqualify Elijah Knox for running for the District 2 seat on the county commission in the June 1 primary.

Knox, 75, a life long resident of the county and a former mayor of Akron, was appealing a decision by a sub-committee that he officially resides in District 1. The executive committee voted Friday to uphold the April 7 sub-committee decision, although testimony in two evenings of hearings this week demonstrated that he lives in District 2.

Knox and his attorney, Nicholas H. Cobbs Jr., both stated Friday night that they would appeal to the state Democratic Party.

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Knox had qualified April 2 to run for the District 2 seat, but incumbent commissioner Lois Fields challenged his qualification.

Testimony Monday evening from Faye Cochran, chairman of the county Board Registrars, revealed that a former registrar chairman Eugene Wright, had incorrectly moved approximately 238 voters from District 2 to District 1 in 2002 according to changes to state senate district lines.

District lines for the county commission have remained the same since 1994. According to that district map, Knox’s residence on F Street in Akron is still in District 2.

The Board of Registrars changed Knox back to District 2 on the voting list Monday morning, a decision concurred by Probate Judge Leland Avery who testified in the hearing Friday night.

Avery asked the Alabama Secretary of State Nancy Worley for an opinion, and the secretary stated in a letter that the issue of qualification was “a local issue.”

Cobbs stressed in Friday’s hearing that only two issues mattered: was Knox a certified voter in Hale County and was he a resident of District 2? The attorney said in the

affirmative to both issues.

On the stand Knox complained that Rev. Robert Shepherd, chairman of the county Democratic committee, had not allowed him to enter evidence at the earlier sub-committee meeting.

After the verdict Friday night, Shepherd said he and the committee stand by their decision.