Como – New Mayor
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Judy Sumner has been declared Mayor of Como following a legal struggle that consumed most of the term to which she was elected.
Judge Kenneth M. Burns ruled Friday that Sumner had won the July, 2005 election by a vote of 302 to 298.
Judge Burns’ opinion came after a day of testimony on Friday, May 9 in the Panola County Courthouse in Sardis.
Azria “Bobby” Lewers had been sworn in as mayor in July, 2005, following the May 17, 2005 municipal election. Judge Burns ruled that the Como Democratic Executive Committee’s (CDEC) May 24, 2005 decision to count absentee ballots which had been previously rejected had been in error.
Citing the 1996 ruling in “Misso v. Oliver” the judge stated that “Since … our election law does not aurhorize CDEC to rule on the validity of the absentee ballots, the election in issue in this case was won by Sumner by a vote of 302 to 298.”
Sumner had first filed a petition in June, 2005. In a trial in November, 2006, Circuit Judge Sharion Aycock upheld Lewers’ election on a technicality. Sumner appealed Aycock’s ruling to the Mississippi Supreme Court. After more than a year, the Supreme Court reversed Aycock’s decision on January 17, 2008.
Attorney Ellis Turnage represented the CDEC; Gerald Chatham represented Sumner.
Sources in Como said that Sumner could take office as early as Tuesday, May 20.
“We’re trying to get some guidance from the Secretary of State,” town board attorney Parker Still said. Still said that Lewers would have the right to appeal the decision but that Sumner would probably be seated during the appeal process.
The term to which Sumner has now been declared to have been elected ends in June, 2009.