Court says pro wrestler can't run for Ringgold mayor

Court says pro wrestler can't run for Ringgold mayor

October 1st, 2015 by Evan Hoopfer in Local Regional News

Paul Lee, the professional wrestler who was running for Ringgold mayor, will not be on the Nov. 3 ballot.

This comes after Catoosa County Superior Court Judge Brian House upheld the city election board's decision that Lee wasn't eligible to run for Ringgold mayor because he hasn't been a city resident for 12 months before the election date.

The city was alerted to Lee's ineligibility during a hearing Sept. 16 when current Vice Mayor Nick Millwood — who's also running for mayor — brought evidence before Elections Superintendent Nicki Lundeen that Lee hadn't lived in the city for the necessary amount of time.

The hearing Wednesday lasted 15 minutes, with Lee representing himself and city attorney Jim Bisson speaking on behalf of Ringgold.

Lee, wearing a black polo but not sunglasses as he did when he originally addressed election officials, presented his case. He said the city charter's definition of residency is vague, and he told the city while registering for the mayoral race he had two residences — one in city limits and one outside — and was told that wouldn't be an issue.

"I don't see what the problem was," Lee told the court. "There wasn't a problem when they took my money."

Lee attempted to bring evidence before House, but House made clear to Lee what the hearing was for.

Paul Lee

Paul Lee

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

"This is not an evidentiary hearing," he said. The hearing was to determine if the city acted in error during its initial hearing two weeks ago.

The city attorney then presented his case, and said Lee declared his homestead exemption for his residence outside city limits, and his mother-in-law filed the homestead tax exemption for the residence inside city limits. After both sides spoke, House made his ruling.

"There's nothing to prove you lived there," Judge House said to Lee. "If I go back 12 months, you are not a resident of the city of Ringgold. That's why the court affirms the hearing's decision."

While Lee has run out of options to appeal the election board's decision, he said he will now file a civil suit against Ringgold for what he says is a case of discrimination.

He's spent $6,000 on campaign signs and had to pay $180 to register for the mayor's race initially.

On the steps of Catoosa County Courthouse after the judge made his ruling, Lee called the court a "kangaroo court" and said he's also filing two complaints against current Ringgold city officials who he believes are in office illegally.

"This is a pick-and-choose city," Lee said. "Somebody needs to start fighting for people's rights. But the decision's done been made."

Contact staff writer Evan Hoopfer at ehoopfer@timesfreepress.com or @EvanHoopfer on Twitter or 423-757-6731.


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