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Sheriff’s race prompts hearing

WINDSOR – The Bertie County Board of Elections has set Tuesday, April 17 as the date they will conduct a hearing challenging the residency requirement of one of the candidates for the office of Bertie County Sheriff.

On March 12, Vivian Clark and Chavuletta Jones-Sexton, two Bertie residents, filed a Petition for Judicial Review through attorney Paul Faison S. Winborne of the Dixon and Thompson law firm in Edenton alleging candidate Adrian Bowen does not meet the residency requirements to hold the office of Sheriff in Bertie County.

The claimants stated NC Gen. Statute 162-2, which says that no person shall be eligible for the office of sheriff who has not resided in the county for one calendar year preceding their election, automatically disqualifies Bowen’s candidacy.

When Clark and Sexton-Jones went to file their affidavit challenge with the Bertie County Board of Elections, they learned it could not be heard because there were only two members of the board, not the requisite three at that particular time.

Appealing to the NC State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, they were further halted because there was no state board in place either, and the petition would have to be heard by in Wake County Superior Court in Raleigh on April 2.

Since the original filing, Gov. Roy Cooper has appointed a full nine-member state board of elections and more important to the petitioners, there is now a full four-member Bertie County Board of Elections (Glenwood Mitchell, chairman; Carol Woolard, vice-chair; James Lee, secretary; and James Perry, Jr.).

Clark and Sexton-Jones then re-filed their petition and the local elections board set the Tuesday date for the hearing.

As proof of their residency challenge, the petitioners charge the following in signed affidavits:

Bowen lists his address as 110 E. Robins Lane, Windsor, the home of his deceased parents.

Bowen is married and his wife, Kia Corsey Bowen is registered to vote in Pasquotank County as of March 2018.

Mrs. Bowen lives in Pasquotank County and is registered to vote there, listing an address on file of 504 Troy Dr., Elizabeth City, NC.

Bowen owns a business with a principal address in Pasquotank County of 504 Troy Drive, Elizabeth City; and as of the annual business listing report he is listed as Manager for the company located at 504 Troy Drive.

Bowen wrote a personal check to pay his filing fee in Bertie County listing his address as 504 Troy Drive, Elizabeth City.

Bowen owns a 1,900 square foot, 4-bedroom, 2.4 bath home in Pasquotank County at 504 Troy Drove, built in 2014.

Bowen’s Bertie County residence is just less than 1,300 square feet and listed as occupancy of one according to Bertie County tax records.

Bowen’s former employer, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, have records concerning his address that are also relevant to the petition.

According to state law, the burden of proof of residency falls on the candidate (Bowen). He is required to show the actual abandonment of the first domicile, coupled with the intent not to return to that domicile; the acquisition of a new domicile by actual residence at another place; and the intent of making the newer domicile a permanent domicile.

Bowen has maintained in other published reports that he is a resident of Bertie County, having changed his voter registration and driver’s license in April 2016; even voting in the 2016 presidential election.  He adds that his Pasquotank County home was built to replace a home lost to tornado damage.  He also states he is a member of Cedar Landing Baptist Church and belongs to a local Windsor-based motorcycle club.

“I look forward to standing up for myself and representing myself,” Bowen said last month when the petition was first filed.