Candidate Szymanski lays out case for legal residency

Posted: Sunday, September 03, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A former legislator challenging for the Senate seat covering south Anchorage and Kenai testified that he is a resident of the district because he has lived in his girlfriend's condo for the past three years.

Democrat Mike Szymanski's residency in Senate District E has been called into question by the Republican Party of Alaska and two voters in the district. Those parties have filed a lawsuit.

Superior Court Judge Jonathan Link this week listened as Szymanski, a former state senator, detailed why he believes he is eligible to take on incumbent Sen. Jerry Ward at the polls in November.

State law says candidates must live in the district for a year before filing for office.

Szymanski testified Thursday that he and Sheelah Shelton have been living together in Shelton's townhouse since 1997.

Clouding the picture for Szymanski are three facts:

--He receives his mail at a home he owns outside Ward's district;

--His voting address was the home he owns until he changed it in January; and

--He voted in the other district in the September 1999 special election on whether to use some Permanent fund earnings to pay for government.

To defend his residency claim, Szymanki told the judge that he keeps his guns at Shelton's townhouse, that he has his own closet and that photos of his grandchildren are displayed on the refrigerator.

He said he hasn't spent a night at his old home for two years or more, though he kept his office there for a while. He recently began renting the place to a tenant.

Ken Jacobus, the lawyer representing the Republicans, said none of the details about where Szymanski lives is relevant to his case.

He said the key point is that last September Szymanski went to his old polling place and cast a ballot in the special election. A state law says ''a qualified voter loses residence by voting in another election district or in another state's elections.''

The Division of Election allows certain types of cross-district voting and the statutes require consideration of other laws as well, said elections director Janet Kowalski.

Kowalski ruled earlier that Szymanski lives in District E, which prompted the residency lawsuit.

The hearing continued Friday.

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