More questions raised in District 6

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 7, 2009

As Oren Fannin was sworn into office on Monday, controversy continued to swirl in the District 6 commission seat for Pike County.

Fannin, who was declared the winner of the seat after a lengthy civil court case, replaces ousted commissioner Karen Berry. But only after Probate Judge Wes Allen was forced to meet for an hour behind closed doors before officially issuing Fannin’s oath of office Monday. Following his oath, Fannin said officials told him that Berry might plan to appeal the judge’s ruling that said the election results that appeared to earn her the seat in November 2008 were at best tainted, due to invalid absentee ballots cast. He tossed out those ballots, and Fannin won the election, by a narrow margin.

Now, with hints of a criminal investigation to follow and allegations of perjury and fraud having been raised during the civil trial, the residents and taxpayers in District 6 and throughout Pike County, deserve answers and finality in this case. If Karen Berry is planning to appeal the judge’s ruling, she needs to come forward and say so – on the record. If not, she needs to do the same, to put the matter to rest.

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The residents of District 6 have been through a tumultuous election and 10 months, waiting to see who will be their representative on the county commission. They deserve to have the benefits of a fair and honest democratic process. Moreover, they deserve to know who their representative in the county commission will be moving forward. The commission already has voted on key issues – including the fiscal year 2010 budget that includes pay raises and travel allowances for commissioners. It’s time to put someone in the District 6 seat that taxpayers and voters can hold accountable for the remaining three years of the term. And it’s time for the whole of Pike County to have reassurance that the integrity of the election process is being upheld in our county.