Updated 4:34 p.m. with comments from Rep. Sylvester Taylor.
Usually, the residency requirement for political candidates is just another box to check, but two cases involving St. Louis-area office-seekers have not been so clearly defined - until today.
The Missouri Supreme Court has handed down decisions today on two residency-requirement cases. In both cases, state legislative districts were redrawn following the results of the 2010 U.S. Census.
Democratic State Rep. Rochelle Walton Gray of Black Jack had challenged fellow Black Jack resident and Democratic Representative Sylvester Taylor’s eligibility because he doesn’t live within the district’s recently-redrawn boundaries. A Circuit Court judge initially ruled in Taylor’s favor, but that ruling was overturned by the Eastern District Appeals Court. But the state’s High Court overruled the Appeals Court, saying that Taylor only had to live for one year in the county where the new district exists, not within that district itself. Taylor is happy with today’s decision.
“This new 75th District that was drawn November 30th, I live right across the street from it, I mean directly across the street," Taylor said. "So yes, I have to move, but I think it was the right thing to do.”
The ruling is also welcome news to several other incumbents and challengers who are running for State House seats in districts where they currently don’t reside. Gray has not responded yet to requests for a comment.
Updated 1:39 p.m. with comment from Nasheed and an attorney for Wright-Jones.
- Mo. state Sen. Robin Wright-Jones vs. Mo. state Rep. Jamilah Nasheed
In summary: Nasheed (D, St. Louis) had filed to challenge Wright-Jones (D, St. Louis) in the 5th Senate District. The 5th District was redrawn this year to take in part of the 4th District, but not the area where Nasheed lives.
The original decision made by the St. Louis Circuit Court ruled that Nasheed was ineligible for the ballot - but today the Missouri Supreme Court reversed that decision - ruling that Nasheed will, indeed, be allowed to run in the 5th District Democratic primary.
Nasheed says the time wasted on the residency challenge is further proof that Wright-Jones is not an effective leader.
"And I think at the end of the day the constituents here in the 5th Senate District will understand how important it is to have someone in the Senate that's going to represent this city and fight in the best interest of the city," Nasheed said.
An attorney for Wright-Jones, Elbert Walton, called the ruling a political decision that ignores precedent.
- Mo. state Rep. Rochelle Walton Gray vs. Mo. state Rep. Sylvester Taylor II
In summary: Democratic House members Rochelle Walton Gray and Sylvester Taylor each filed to run in the 75th House District in St. Louis County. That district was redrawn last year and includes pieces of both lawmakers' current House districts. Gray lives in the new 75th District, and Taylor does not.
The original decision in the case said Taylor would, indeed, be allowed to run in the 75th House District Democratic primary. Today, the Missouri Supreme court affirmed that decision, allowing Taylor to stay on the ballot.
Follow Kelsey Proud on Twitter: @KelseyProud