Shelley Breeding ruled not eligible for Knox County office

Shelley Breeding ruled not eligible for Knox County office

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Shelley Breeding Shelley Breeding

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A chancery court judge ruled Thursday that Shelley Breeding is not a Knox County resident and therefore cannot run for office in the county.

Breeding had filed to run as a Democrat for West Knox County's new District 89 seat in the state House. When county election officials determined that maps show her home in Anderson County, Breeding appealed.

Hamilton County Chancellor Frank Brown's ruling turned down Breeding's appeal, saying she failed to show she was a Knox County resident.

Breeding claimed the county boundaries were not accurate. She also stated that she served on jury duty in Knox County, and works and votes there. Her car is registered in Knox County, as well.

Knox County Law Director Joe Jarret argued that Breeding pays her property taxes in Anderson County, which was additional proof she's an Anderson County resident.

The ruling stemmed from a Knox County Election Commission vote in March to seek a declarative court ruling on the residency issue.

"The opinion is well-reasoned, well-thought out," said  Bob Bowman, member of the Knox County Election Committee.

The Election Commission wanted the courts to say if Breeding was a qualified candidate.

"We essentially removed politics from our decision by allowing a judge to tell us whether Ms.  Breeding is a resident of Knox County or Anderson County," said Bowman.

Chancellor Brown heard arguments from both sides last week, but delayed a ruling until after he determined whether he had jurisdiction to decide the case.

The case was heard by a Hamilton County chancellor to avoid a conflict of interest in Knox County courts.

Breeding issued a statement saying:

"It is unfortunate that the Court has denied my eligibility to run for State Representative for District 89. I have considered myself a Knox County resident for many years and my actions support that. The Court ignored the many factors in my favor for residency, including the fact that it is incredibly expensive to determine exactly where the county boundary line runs through my property. He even suggested I move to make the determination simpler.

Of course, my residency was never questioned until I decided to run for office. If I am not allowed to run, whoever wins the Republican primary will not have any competition. This does not only effect me, this ruling essentially denies the voters of District 89 the right to choose between differing viewpoints on issues relevant to them."

Breeding's lawyer, Jon Cope, said an appeal will be filed with the Tennessee Court of Appeals, as well as a motion to expedite the case.

A motion will also be filed to see if the Tennessee Supreme Court will take the case.

If Breeding remains off the ballot, there will be no democrats running for the 89th district seat.

"My appeal is not just for me, it's for all candidates who want to run for office in a minority party," Breeding said.

Early voting begins on July 13, and the election day is August 2.


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