State rep's residency challenge rejected

Posted: Wednesday, January 03, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- An Anchorage Republican elected to the state House in November with 64 percent of the vote can take office this month free of a lawsuit challenging her residency, a judge ruled.

Superior Court Judge Milton Souter dismissed a lawsuit filed by Lesil McGuire's opponent, Republican Moderate Party leader Ray Metcalfe, saying that Metcalfe should have filed his complaint with the Division of Elections first and that the deadline to do so was last June.

Metcalfe, a Republican Moderate candidate, called the judge's decision ''totally lame'' but said he would probably not appeal it.

Souter did not resolve the factual dispute: whether McGuire lived for a full year in District 17 before filing for office. The Alaska Constitution requires candidates to live in their districts for a year to be eligible for the ballot.

McGuire claimed she never moved from her mother's house in the district until she married last summer and moved into a new house in the district.

The lawsuit Metcalfe filed in September claimed McGuire wasn't eligible to run because she had filled out a voter registration form changing her residency to her then-fiance's condo, outside District 17.

She also listed the condo as her home when she requested ballots in the Anchorage mayoral race this spring and on an October 1999 application for a volunteer job as a children's advocate.

McGuire has said she didn't mean to change her voter registration and filled out the form by accident. She said she thought she might move to the condo after she got married but never actually did.

Under a state regulation, complaints to the director of elections about a candidate's eligibility must be filed within 10 days of the June 1 deadline for becoming a candidate.

Metcalfe maintains he had the right to go directly to court but said he would probably let the lawsuit drop because he and 15 other plaintiffs do not want to be saddled with attorneys' fees. Alaska judges can order the losers of lawsuits to pay a portion of the winners' legal fees.

Sarah Felix, the assistant attorney general representing the Division of Elections, said the division didn't plan to pursue the case either.

''She was elected. The voters were aware of it,'' Felix said. ''It's not something that I think we need to push.''

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