ARLINGTON - City Council candidate Will Clark filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to get fellow candidate Charla Hawkes Vinyard to prove her eligibility for public office.
Clark and Hawkes Vinyard are among five candidates running for the unexpired District 8 at-large seat in the May 12 election. Clark, who held a press conference Monday at City Hall, said he felt "forced into this lawsuit" because the city has refused to investigate questions regarding Hawkes Vinyard's residency.
"All I want is the truth out of this," said Clark, 25. "If she resides in Arlington, fantastic. But if she doesn't reside in Arlington, she doesn't need to be running."
Clark's lawsuit comes less than two weeks after Arlington attorney David Weaver asked the city to investigate Hawkes Vinyard's residency claims after the Star-Telegram reported she had apparently violated state law by claiming two homestead exemptions in Tarrant and Denton counties.
Hawkes Vinyard, a real estate agent who serves on the Arlington Planning and Zoning Commission, told the Star-Telegram last month that she did not realize she was claiming tax breaks on both properties until one of her opponents raised it as a campaign issue.
Hawkes Vinyard recently filed paperwork with the Tarrant Appraisal District to remove the exemption on her long-time Arlington home on Bever Boulevard, which she lists as the home address on her voter registration, her professional real estate licenses and her application to be placed on the ballot, and to pay back taxes.
She has also said she did not remember signing the application for the exemption on the Lewisville Lake home she shares with her husband, who she married in 2009.
Under state law, individuals or married couples can claim only one homestead exemption, and that home must be their principal residence, according to the Denton Central and Tarrant appraisal districts.
Clark's attorney, Mark Haney, said the question about whether Vinyard is violating a city charter requirement of being an Arlington resident to run for council needs to be cleared up before the election. Early voting begins April 30. A hearing has been scheduled for May 3 in Tarrant County Court of Law 2.
"Are you a resident in Frisco, as you claim on your homestead exemption, or are you a resident of Arlington, as you are claiming for purposes of this election? They can't both be true," Haney said.
Both Clark and Haney said they were disappointed the city has declined to investigate her eligibility. City Attorney Jay Doegey has said having a homestead exemption on a home in another county does not make Hawkes Vinyard ineligible if she states that she also lives in Arlington. The city charter requires that the mayor and council members reside and be registered to vote within the city limits.
"I had hoped that ... they would try to make sure the candidates were going forward in compliance with the charter provision," Haney said.
Michael Glaspie, 65, David Berg. 46, and Faith Chatham, 64, are also vying for the District 8 seat.
- This article contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578
Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/04/16/3888214/lawsuit-seeks-to-force-candidate.html#storylink=cpy