Jason Jackson has filed on Tuesday an emergency application with the Oklahoma Supreme Court to contest the Tulsa County Election Board’s decision to allow John Fitzpatrick to remain on the special election ballot for sheriff.
Both Jackson and Fitzpatrick have filed as candidates for Tulsa County sheriff.
A hearing on the matter has been scheduled for 2:30 p.m. January 14 in front of the state’s high court.
Fitzpatrick emerged December 17 with his candidacy intact in a unanimous vote after a hearing in front of two of three members of the county’s election board.
The court documents filed by Jackson states the election board “erroneously determined” that Fitzpatrick is qualified to run. Jackson’s argument of Fitzpatrick being qualified hinges on whether a reserve officer is consider a peace officer under state statutes.
Fitzpatrick has been a “certified reserve officer” with the Tulsa Police Department for 10 years.
On Thursday Fitzpatrick provided the Tulsa World with a letter he received from one of the two legal advisers who offered opinions to the election board during the hearing over the candidacy challenge. The letter was written Wednesday by John David Luton, first assistant district attorney in Tulsa County.
Luton wrote that he understood there had been “some confusion” on the opinion he gave during the hearing.
Luton offered Fitzpatrick a clarification.
“The opinion that I expressed to the Tulsa County Election Board was that you were a ‘current certified peace officer’ ” pursuant to the applicable statutes.
Jackson has publicly stated he believes Election Board Chairwoman Elaine Dodd and Vice Chairman George Wiland voted opposite of the legal recommendation they received.
Jackson contends state lawmakers, in drafting and enacting the statue outlining qualifications to be sheriff, could have used language that included a “current certified peace officer or reserve peace officer in good standing.” But the Legislature didn’t do that, he stated to the Tulsa World, instead using only the phrase “certified peace officer.”
“Its intent was that person running for sheriff in larger counties, with arguably greater resources but also larger populations to manage, be more qualified than persons running for sheriff in smaller counties,” Jackson told the Tulsa World.
“Knowing that he cannot defeat me at the ballot box, Jason Jackson has chosen the route of Al Gore and liberal Democrats,” Fitzpatrick said in a prepared statement to the Tulsa World. “He’s trying to steal the election in Court. But just like Al Gore, I am confident Jackson’s trumped up legal arguments will fail.”
A special primary election is scheduled for March 1, 2016 with the special general election on April 5.
The candidates are running to replace longtime Sheriff Stanley Glanz who submitted his resignation effective Nov. 1, 2015, prompting the special election to fill the remainder of his term through Dec. 31, 2016.
Glanz resigned following a grand jury investigation in the wake of a deadly shooting involving Reserve Deputy Robert Bates. That grand jury investigation led to three misdemeanor indictments against the former sheriff.
You can find more information about the candidates on FortySix News Tulsa County Sheriff’s Special Election Page.
(H/T: Tulsa World)