Secretary of State declares vacancy on Baldwin board

Baldwin aldermen and the mayor will meet in special session Thursday to fill a vacancy on the governing board.

Mayor Wayne Breaux and the board received correspondence dated Feb. 19 from the Louisiana Secretary of State declaring “a vacancy exists in the office of Alderman, Town of Baldwin, Parish of St. Mary, due to the removal of Tony J. Gibson.”

The board will convene at 6:30 p.m. to make a temporary appointment to fill Gibson’s seat until a special election on Oct. 19. Qualifying for that election will be Aug. 14-16. The term runs through the end of 2014.

Gibson lost his appeal to retain his seat by a ruling from the Louisiana Supreme Court.

He was ruled not eligible to remain in office because he was not qualified to run for the seat due to a felony conviction in 1997. He was elected in 2010.

He had received a first-time-offender pardon, and his attorney asserted that this allowed Gibson to seek office under the Louisiana Constitution. Under its provision, a convicted felon may run for an office after 15 years or being pardoned by the governor.

Louisiana’s 1st Circuit Court of Appeal overturned a ruling in 16th Judicial District Court regarding a local elected official’s eligibility to hold public office. The ruling was rendered May 11.

State law provides for a challenge to a candidate’s qualification for an election within seven days, but the conviction did not become known until after that time had elapsed. The Supreme Court said first-offender pardons are not adequate to allow a convicted felon to hold office.

Gibson was accused of carnal knowledge of a juvenile in 1997 and entered a guilty plea. He was sentenced to five years in prison which was suspended and was on probation for three years.

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