SHREVEPORT, La. – On Monday, state Sen. Greg Tarver challenged the residency of state Rep. Barbara Norton, who is trying to unseat him. Two days later, Tarver did the same with Shreveport attorney Shante Wells.
On Thursday, Wells withdraw from the race. And Norton challenged Tarver’s residency by trying to get Caddo District Attorney James Stewart to investigate. Late Thursday, Stewart said he will not.
The twists and turns of this highly contested race should be decided Friday morning when a hearing is held to determine where Norton lives and if she can remain in the Senate District 39 race.
In his lawsuit challenging Norton’s residence, Tarver said Norton, who is term limited in the House of Representatives, does not live in a home on McAlpine Street, which is where her relative lives. Also living there is a man who is registered as a sex offender with the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Tarver said Norton actually lives in a house she is leasing on Spy Glass Circle, which is located in adjoining Senate District 38. Norton switched her voting address to McAlpine Street in July 2018, but Tarver contends she has never lived there. A certified letter sent to that address was accepted and signed for by the man who is a sex offender.
Tarver’s attorney subpoenaed Norton’s tax returns, driver’s license and utility bills to determine her residency. Two days later, Norton had yet turned over the documents so the Caddo District Court judge who is hearing the residence challenge will also determine if Norton should be held in contempt of court for her “deliberate ad intentional defiance” of the court orders.
Thursday afternoon, Norton held a quickly called news conference, where she shared information that she asked Stewart to investigate Tarver's residency. Louisiana law gives the district attorney legal standing to investigate a complaint.
Norton said on voter registration documents Tarver lists 1024 Pierre as his business and residence address.
“You cannot have a business address for a residence ... at this particular time he's claiming the address he is living in is a business,” Norton said.
Ron Miciotto, the attorney representing Tarver, said a parole officer made a visit to the McAlpine address Norton claims is her home. The visit was to check on Ronnie Mayfield, the convicted sex offender who also lives there.
“Barbara Norton opened the door. … However never at one time did Mr. Mayfield indicate Barbara Norton resided in that house,” Miciotto said.
As for Wells, the Louisiana Secretary of State's office confirmed late Thursday that he submitted paperwork to take his name off the ballot.
Tarver challenged Wells' qualifications, saying he lives in Senate District 37 instead of District 39. A home Wells claimed as his official residence on Cresswell Avenue is owned by Wells' family members and Wells does not live there, Tarver said in his lawsuit.
Tarver says Wells did not meet the residency requirements to run for the District 39 seat. Louisiana law requires a political candidate to reside in the district at least a year before qualifying.
During a news conference Wednesday, Wells called Tarver a "bully" and said he would fight Tarver's accusations. A hearing was set for Monday in Caddo District Court, but with Wells' withdrawal it will be cancelled.
"This is the first and last time I will acknowledge or respond to Mr. Wells' immature and disrespectful behavior in regards to name calling and intentionally deceiving the people. First and foremost, I take offense to being called a bully, particularly when my whole life has been devoted to serving and helping people, especially the elderly," said Tarver in a statement released late Thursday afternoon. "Secondly, let the records show and anyone can read for themselves that neither me nor my lawyer subpoenaed Mr. Wells' 85-year-old grandmother or children. I’m terribly disappointed to the levels that he will stoop to deceive the people in an attempt to divert their attention from the real issue.
Tarver further said he believes Wells bowed out of the race because he knows he doesn't live in the district.
"I feel that with the overwhelming evidence that we have to prove our case, justice would have prevailed on Monday. Even though I’m terribly disappointed in a person whom I considered a friend and have helped tremendously, I have no harsh feelings towards Mr. Wells and hold nothing against him," Tarver said.
Jim Slagle of Vivian is also a candidate in the Senate race. The election is Oct. 12.