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Elections board: Candidate not a resident of Town of Catawba

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Board of Elections hearing

ROBERT C. REED/HICKORY DAILY RECORD: Town of Catawba council candidate Gilda Caputo-Hansen listens to the Board of Elections members render their decision on her residency in Catawba.

The field of candidates for Catawba Town Council will shrink by one following a decision by the Catawba County Board of Elections Thursday.

The board heard evidence on the residency of three candidates Thursday morning: Gilda Caputo-Hansen, Colleen Anderson and Amanda Drum Stewart.

Board of Elections hearing

ROBERT C. REED/HICKORY DAILY RECORD: Donnie Allen

Catawba County Councilman Donnie Allen, who is seeking re-election, submitted an affidavit challenging the residency of the three candidates.

Stewart also filed a separate affidavit challenging Hansen’s residency. The board concluded in a 4-1 vote that Hansen did not meet the residency qualifications for the office.

Hansen told the board she moved from New York to Catawba County in April. She said she initially wanted to move into an apartment in the town of Catawba located above the event center she runs.

However, the apartment was not ready, Hansen said. Hansen said she has temporarily established residency in Conover in anticipation of moving into the Catawba apartment.

Hansen said she presented a copy of her lease when she filed for office and was told she could file as long as she would be in the apartment 30 days before the election.

Board Director Amanda Duncan clarified that candidates must be residents at the time they file.

Board Chairmen Barry Cheney and board members David Hood, Jason White and Geniey Yang voted that Hansen did not meet the residency requirement.

David Abernethy voted in Hansen’s favor. He said he believed she qualified because of her intent to move into the new residence and the fact that she had been in there before.

Hansen will have two business days after the written order is entered on Aug. 19 to appeal the decision, Hood said.

Hansen said she does not plan to appeal.

“The board had to do what they did and I’ll be back in two years,” Hansen said.

The board ruled that Anderson and Stewart meet the residency requirements.

Board of Elections hearing

ROBERT C. REED/HICKORY DAILY RECORD: Colleen Anderson

Anderson, who is currently a council member in Catawba, said she has been in negotiations to buy a house in Catawba since March.

In April, Anderson was unable to extend the lease on the apartment where she lived. She said she hoped to extend for a few months instead of a year but could not do so. Anderson said she temporarily moved just outside the town limits until she could occupy the home.

Anderson said she has been under contract for the home since May and will be closing today.

Board member Hood argued that, since Anderson’s current residence is temporary and she has not yet occupied the home she is purchasing, her apartment should be considered her official domicile.

Therefore, Hood concluded, Anderson should be considered a resident. Another board member, Abernethy disagreed, saying that he believed the temporary residence should be considered the domicile.

The vote was 4-1 in Anderson’s favor. Abernethy voted in opposition.

Board of Elections hearing

ROBERT C. REED/HICKORY DAILY RECORD: Amanda Stewart

Stewart said that the line between Catawba County and the town of Catawba runs directly through her house and that she sleeps on the side of the house within the town limits.

The board voted unanimously in Stewart’s favor after reviewing maps of her property.

Anderson said she was happy with the decision and is looking forward to earning the support of Catawba residents. Stewart said she was pleased with the outcomes in each of the cases and is looking forward to the election.

Allen had no comment beyond saying the board had made its decision.

With Hansen out, the race for town council is a four-way contest between Allen, Anderson, Stewart and Carroll Yount for the two open seats on the council.

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Kevin Griffin is the City of Hickory reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.

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