Paul Lee -- the pro wrestler running for Ringgold mayor who goes by the name Real Nature Boy in the ring -- is appealing the city elections board's decision that ruled him ineligible to run for office.
Lee received a letter in the mail last week saying that because he declared his homestead tax exemption at another residence outside of city limits, he wasn't eligible to run for mayor. Ringgold city charter says any candidate has to live in Ringgold for 12 months prior to the election date.
At a special hearing on Sept. 16, Lee's candidacy was challenged by current Vice Mayor Nick Millwood, who said he discovered Lee hadn't lived in his residence inside the city limits for the required 12-month minimum when several citizens alerted him. Lee was critical of Millwood, who is also running for mayor, after the hearing and also Saturday when Lee spoke again with the Times Free Press.
"I feel like he's trying to get popular on my coattails," Lee said of Millwood. "He just thinks he should automatically get the spot."
Lee said his appeal was delivered to Superior Court Clerk Tracy Brown at 4:40 p.m. Friday. Brown confirmed the appeal was filed, but said she doesn't know the timeline of when it will go through the courts.
Lee said if his appeal is denied, he will file a civil suit against the city. He's spent $6,000 on campaign signs and nowhere in the letter he received was a mention of reimbursement. He doesn't believe the city charter defines residency as where a person declares their homestead tax exemption.
"I've been discriminated against," Lee said. "People sue every day for less."
Lee also said people have been taking his campaign signs from yards. He said those are his property and people have no right to take them. He said Millwood supporters have been seen taking signs, and two were taken off his own lawn Monday night.
Millwood told the Times Free Press he has not encouraged supporters to steal signs.
"If anybody is taking any signs down, I don't know about it," he said.
Lee said he will fight the city for as long as it takes.
"I'm in it to win it," he said.
Contact staff writer Evan Hoopfer at email@example.com or @EvanHoopfer on Twitter or 423-757-6731.