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May 7, 2014

UPDATE: BOE candidate withdraws from District 5 race

Residency issue discovered

MILLEDGEVILLE — Baldwin County Board of Education District 5 incumbent Wes Cummings no longer has a challenger in the nonpartisan race.

Ulysses Green Foston Sr. officially withdrew Monday afternoon, according to Judge Todd Blackwell, superintendent of elections.

Blackwell contacted Foston after discovering a residency issue.

The now withdrawn challenger's 103 Waters Edge Drive home actually sits in District 4, based on the latest county district lines, not District 5.

Blackwell said Foston ran for the same position four years ago before redistricting made his residence part of District 4.

When notified by phone Monday afternoon, Blackwell said Foston was a “little in disbelief.”

“Ultimately what he did was come in and file a letter of withdrawal. He wasn't officially challenged. It didn't come to any of that,” Blackwell said.

Notices of the withdrawal are posted in the Baldwin County Courthouse early voting area.

Early voting for the May 20 nonpartisan and primary races began April 28.

“His votes will not be tabulated,” Blackwell said. “That's what happens when somebody withdraws, and it's too late to get them off the ballot.”

During qualifying, there isn't typically any investigation into someone's residency. The liability lies with the candidate and the citizens of his or her district.

“It's their sworn words that is their address, and they are a resident of that district,” Blackwell said. “There was really no reason to believe that he wasn't in that he ran four years ago in the same seat. It could have been caught earlier, and I wish it had.”

Citizens of a particular voting district have 14 days after qualifying ends to raise a challenge. The elections superintendent is the only person able to challenge a candidate's credentials once that timetable lapses.

Upon hearing news of Foston’s withdrawal from the nonpartisan race, Cummings expressed his disappointment for Foston.

“I know his interests and his heart lies in education and hopefully this doesn’t discourage him from running again in the future.”

With the withdrawal from the election, Cummings is now unopposed in the District 5 race. Incumbent school board member Gloria Wicker was already running unchallenged for the District 1 seat.

Foston could not be reached by press time Tuesday for comment.

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