Weeks after Allen Haywood was elected as mayor of Sparta, a judge has called for a new election.
The attorney for incumbent Mayor William Evans Jr. challenged the election results, claiming Haywood knowingly withheld information about a felony conviction in Alabama in the 1980s.
He said he submitted documents to the court obtained from Alabama that showed Haywood's rights were not restored in the state. That would make Haywood ineligible to run for mayor of Sparta.
Haywood's attorney, Carl Cansino, disputed that charge.
"We intend to show that it's not an intentional act," he said. "That everything that Mr. Haywood did and everything that he received created the impression that he was eligible to serve as a candidate."
Though the judge called for a new election, by law the election will only be open to anyone who qualified for the November election, meaning Evans and Rosemary O'Neill.
Harrell Lawson said he is disappointed that the election will be closed.
"But I really wanted to see the election opened up so that all of the citizens of Sparta can have their voice," he said.
Lawson said it is time for a change.
"That came out clear in on November 3rd, that came out clear in 2007, that came out clear in 2011," he said.
But one voter, Edith Ingram, said Evans is good for the city.
"I think he's a Christian man. He loves people. He has a passion for helping folks and he is a servant," Ingram said.
The election has been mired in litigation since the results were announced last month. Both parties sought court orders to prevent winners from taking the oath of office.
Haywood won the mayoral race by a court of 314 to 204 votes.
Evans has been Sparta's mayor since 1992.