published Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Councilman Peter Murphy says lawsuit in District 9 race coming


by Cliff Hightower
  • photo
    Former City Councilman Peter Murphy holds a news conference announcing his challenge of the ruling over the District 9 City Council race on Monday. The Hamilton County Election Commission ruled last week that he had lost the March 5 city election to Yusuf Hakeem.
    Photo by Jay Bailey.
    enlarge photo

Councilman Peter Murphy said Tuesday that he and a band of District 9 residents plan on filing a lawsuit to force a runoff election.

He just doesn't know when.

"I'm not entirely certain at this moment," he said. "It will be soon."

Murphy had sent a letter to the Hamilton County Election Commission on Monday telling the commission it should authorize a runoff for the district, which the election commission says Yusuf Hakeem won by six votes.

Election Commission Attorney Chris Clem promptly sent Murphy an email Tuesday morning. He told Murphy the councilman had two options: accept the results of the March 5 city election or file a lawsuit.

"Holding press conferences and demanding the election commission to reconsider is not a valid option for you," Clem said.

The race has been contested by Murphy since the election results showed a narrow margin between the two candidates. The election commission voted last week to throw out two votes that were write-in candidates. Those votes only had check marks.

But Murphy in a news conference Monday said the election commission had ratified the two votes in certification, which meant Hakeem did not get the 50 percent plus one needed to win the district council post outright. He also asked the election commission to confirm there would be a runoff by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The election commission states because of its computer software it cannot take the write-in votes out of the documents.

Clem told Murphy in the email that the next time the election commission meets would be April 19 and there would be no time to vote on holding a runoff election.

But Murphy said he was not asking for a vote. He was asking for the election commission staff to say there would be a runoff.

"The staff has an obligation to hold a runoff," he said.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him at twitter.com/cliffhightower or facebook.com/cliff.hightower.

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