The trial, originally set for Tuesday, stems from a lawsuit that alleges Mayor Alberta McCrory was not a Hobson City resident when she was elected four years ago. And if it is proven McCrory was not a town resident and she is re-elected Aug. 28, the trial could give her opponents a way to contest her election, said Tracy Roberts, deputy general counsel for the Alabama League of Municipalities.
“Another candidate would have to challenge it,” Roberts said of McCrory’s re-election.
However, a trial decision against McCrory before the election would still not remove her name from the ballot, Roberts said.
“That would not be automatic,” he said. “I don’t know if that would be sufficient grounds to remove her from the ballot.”
Calhoun County court records indicate Circuit Judge John Thomason continued the trial until Aug. 9 due to a request from McCrory’s attorney, Taylor Stewart. Hobson City resident Sharon Busbee filed the lawsuit in 2009.
“I don’t know what all the problems were, but I want this to be over with so we can move on,” McCrory said.
According to Stewart’s motion, the plaintiff had not yet responded to his requests for certain documents needed for the case.
“We needed more discovery and didn’t get it,” Stewart said.
Busbee’s attorney, Donald Blankenship, agreed on postponing the trial and said providing the additional documents would not be an issue.
“There is no problem,” Blankenship said. “We just had some more documents to turn over.”
Neither attorney would go into detail about what the documents entailed.
The lawsuit alleges McCrory’s listed place of residence during the 2008 election, 100 Church St., is in Anniston and not Hobson City, which would make her ineligible to hold office in Hobson City. According to Alabama law, a municipal candidate must be a resident of the city he or she plans to run in at least 90 days prior to the election.
McCrory has said she has lived at the home in question with her sister since 2000 and that she is a legal Hobson City resident.
Current records from the Calhoun County Revenue Commission list McCrory’s residence in Hobson City’s tax district. Records show about $44 in property taxes were paid on the home in December. Calhoun County Revenue Commissioner Karen Roper has said records from as far back as 1962 show that the residence has been part of Hobson City’s tax district.
However, the commission’s parcel map records show McCrory’s property is split between Hobson City’s town limits and Anniston’s city limits.
Blankenship said he and his client contend that though McCrory paid taxes in Hobson City, she was still an Anniston resident.
While McCrory is fighting to prove her residency, she must campaign against three other opponents. Her opposition includes Kathy Jackson, a Hobson City resident; Eric Stringer, president of the Hobson City Community and Economic Development Corporation; and Willie Elston, a current Hobson City councilman.
McCrory said she was encouraged by the number of people interested in the mayor’s office this year.
“I look forward to seeing the time when more people become interested in serving our community,” she said. “I don’t think anybody should go unchallenged.”
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star