Lawsuit against Election Commission dismissed

A lawsuit filed by Ron Young against the Anderson County Election Commission has been dismissed by Chancellor Nikki Cantrell.

Last week, plaintiff Ron Young appealed that decision, as well as the dismissal of the suit against Clinton City councilman E.T. Stamey.

The lawsuit was originally filed against Stamey and the election commission following the 2018 elections. Young was Stamey’s opponent for Clinton city council and alleged that Stamey was ineligible to run for election because he was an employee of the City of Clinton.

Stamey is the athletic director for Clinton Elementary School.

Stamey said he personally owes $3,500 in attorney fees, on top of the $6,300 he has already paid. Due to a state statute, the City of Clinton will be held liable for legal fees associated with the election commission, according to Anderson County Elections Commission Administrator Mark Stephens. That amount is $17,000.

The election commission was party to the lawsuit because they certified the election. Young wanted the court to permanently prohibit the election commission from approving any ballot where an employee of Clinton seeks to run for office.

Chancellor Nikki Cantrell dismissed the case against Stamey in April, ruling that Stamey was not an employee of the city but an employee of the school system.

On May 6, she ruled that Young failed to state a claim against the election commission “upon which relief can be granted,” according to court documents.

The election commission certified the election, which is within its capacity, according to Cantrell.

“There was no challenge made to the qualifications of E.T. Stamey with the Anderson County Election Commission prior to the election,” the court documents read in part. “The plaintiff never voiced any concerns with Mr. Stamey’s qualification until after the election of Nov. 6. The election commission was never requested and never conducted any type of review of Mr. Stamey’s qualifications to be on the ballot.”

During last week’s Clinton city council meeting, council members discussed the bill from the election commission.

“There will be even more money,” said Clinton city council member Jim McBride of the appeal Young filed.

McBride said that Young comes into his drugstore frequently to comment on government waste. In particular, according to McBride, Young talks about the motor vehicle fleet at the city.

“He’s always questioning what’s been bought,” McBride said, adding that he assumed Young’s intention was to be good stewards of the people’s tax dollars. “I’m not sure we’re being good stewards of the people’s money with a lawsuit or an appeal.”

McBride also questioned whether the election commission carried liability insurance for situations like this. It is a state statute that the city involved in an election lawsuit carries the bill, and McBride suggested that they discuss that with the state legislators and possibly change the law.

“What value is [liability insurance] if it’s never going to be used?” he asked. “For things like this to happen is very distasteful.”

The election commission gets to choose their lawyer, according to McBride, noting that the bill from the commission is much higher than Stamey’s bill.

Clinton Mayor Scott Burton questioned Young, who was seated in the audience, about his motives.

“What’s the goal of this whole thing?” Burton asked.

If Young’s goal was to be appointed city councilman in Stamey’s place, Burton told him that wasn’t the protocol.

“It comes back to council and the council votes on a replacement,” Burton said.

He also questioned Young as to why he waited until after the election.

“If he had a question on this, he could have gone through the DA or attorney general and it wouldn’t have cost anyone anything,” Burton said.

McBride told Young not to return to his drugstore to talk about the fleet of vehicles.

Burton requested that Young drop the case.

“Do what’s right,” he said.

The Clinton city school system also had an attorney bill for $1500.