Candidates remain in Parish Council race following district judge's ruling

John Dupont

The two candidates for the District 6 seat on the Iberville Parish Council will remain on the Oct. 12 ballot, despite suits in which the two hopefuls sought to disqualify each other on allegations that they did not meet residency requirements.

18th Judicial Court Judge J. Kevin Kimball in a hearing Aug. 16 ruled that neither Claysha Williams nor Raheem Pierce provided evidence to support throwing out either candidate from the race.

The bulk of questioning centered around the residency for Pierce, 18, who graduated in May from Plaquemine High School.

He testified that he has lived on Vessel Street since July 2018, but Williams alleged that Pierce had continued to spend most of his time with his aunt in Addis, where he had lived with his aunt.

Pierce testified that he commuted to Brusly High, where he attended school during the time he lived with his aunt, even after he moved to Plaquemine. He was forced to transfer to Plaquemine High after his parents were informed by Brusly High officials he was attending illegally. The violation of attendance zones came into light when his mother came to check him out from school.

Pierce, meanwhile, alleged that Williams resided in a home her parents bought at Sugar Mill Plantation in Addis. She testified that they bought the house, but then opted to rent the home in West Baton Rouge Parish and remain at their home on High School Street in Plaquemine.

He disputed her claim, based on drives he made to the house in Sugar Mill.

"I've seen her there early in the morning, crossing the track and followed her home," he said. "I know she sleeps there every night."

Pierce said he did not have evidence. "It's just obvious," he told the judge.

Williams said she does lawn work on the house and stays overnight occasionally but considers the Plaquemine home her domiciliary residence.

Kimball said he referred to U.S. Supreme Court cases on domiciliary residence, and neither claim provided clear evidence of violation.

"Both cases involve domiciliary residences, but you can have multiple residences – but only one domiciliary residence," he said.

Pierce claimed victory when he left the courtroom.

"The devil tried to slip in, but God made sure it went otherwise," he said. "What God has for me is for me."

Williams declined to comment after the hearing.