City claims DeRidder councilman-elect didn't live within city limits long enough to qualify

City claims DeRidder councilman-elect didn't live within city limits long enough to qualify
(Source: DeRidder)

DERIDDER, LA (KPLC) - The City of DeRidder has filed a lawsuit against a city councilman-elect.

Michael D. Harris won an at-large city council seat in a runoff in April, but the city now says he didn't live within the city for a year prior to qualifying, thus does not meet the requirements. Harris is scheduled to be sworn in on July 1.

The city claims in a lawsuit filed in Beauregard District Court that Harris switched his homestead exemption from a property outside the city limits to a property within city limits on Jan. 16, 2017. The lawsuit says that qualification required one year of actual residence and one year of domicile within the city prior to the qualifying dates of Jan. 3-5, 2018.

The law reads:

The candidate shall be an elector of the municipality who at the time of qualification shall have been domiciled and actually resided for at least the immediately preceding year in the municipality. In addition, those elected from wards must be residents of their respective wards at the time of qualifying.

Harris, though, says he has long maintained two residences.

Harris said in a statement:

"I have dual residency as I have for the past several years. The Mayor was aware of this months before qualifications. After the primary election and a full runoff, the outgoing Mayor of our City Ron Roberts decided he will bring a law suit against me on behalf of the city, without the city council's input. Again, this is after his candidate loss and the great people of beautiful city elected who they wanted to serve them. It saddens me that an outgoing Mayor would try to unseat me even before I'm seated. I have confidence in the democratic process and when we have our day in court the will of the people will be adhered to. I am committed to the people I will serve.

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