A three-man panel appointed by the State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement ruled Monday that state Sen. Ben Clark still lives in the district he represents. One of his opponent's supporters isn't satisfied and says he'll appeal to the state board.
It's a strange tale. Clark has long claimed residence at his family home in Hoke County. But he also built a new home in Vander, a considerable distance from his Senate District 21 boundaries. State law requires General Assembly members to live in the district they represent.
When District 21 was redistricted, a loop that included his new home was drawn across Sen. Wesley Meredith's adjoining district to keep the new home in the district. Clark sought that change, but then later voted against it. The courts ruled it an illegal racial gerrymander and the redrawn District 21 doesn't include what some call the "Clark Peninsula."
Spring Lake Alderman James O'Garra, a supporter of Clark's primary challenger Naveed Aziz, filed the residency complaint with the board of elections and will take it up to the next level. Ironically, when Aziz challenged Clark two years ago, Clark's camp charged that she didn't live in the district.
With early voting starting this week, we'd really like to see this settled and for the candidates to get on with campaigning — and better yet, debating the district's real issues.