Dugan on election commission's May agenda to seek return to Dickson Municipal Court race

After being disqualified from the race for Dickson Municipal Court judge based on allegations he does not meet the residency requirements, attorney Mitch Dugan will get a chance to plead his case before the Dickson County Election Commission next month. The five-member commission voted 3-1 on April 8 not to certify Dugan as a candidate for the eight-year term because he has not lived inside the city limits for a minimum of one year immediately prior to the Aug. 7 election. But Dugan contends he wasn’t given adequate notice that the election commission planned to hear a challenge to his candidacy by incumbent Judge Reese Holley. An agenda for the election commission meeting that was sent out at 10 am April 8 did not list Holley or a challenge to Dugan’s candidacy as an item to be discussed that night. An agenda distributed at the beginning of the 5:30 meeting did include Holley as a discussion item. Holley presented the commission with several public documents that he says support his contention that Dugan does not meet the residency requirement, including a statement from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security that the Lakeview Drive address Dugan listed on his qualifying papers is not provided on any department-issued documents, which would include a driver’s license. But Dugan says he has lived inside the city of Dickson for at least 11 years, at the Lakeview Drive address since 2006 and four years prior to that at an East Gate Condominium he bought from election commission Chairman Jack Garton. Dugan said he knew nothing about the challenge to his candidacy until he was contacted by the election office the day of the meeting and asked to provide documents to prove his residency. Dugan said he already had appointments with clients and was not able to attend the meeting and only had time to submit some delivery labels, utility bills and homeowners insurance listing his address as Lakeview Drive. Garton abstained from the April 8 vote due to his personal relationship with Dugan and Commissioner Allen Johnson voted in opposition, saying Dugan’s residency or lack thereof had not been clearly proven. Garton confirmed that Dugan has asked to speak to the election commission and will be a part of the May 20 agenda, but said no special meeting will be called over the issue. Dugan also could challenge the election commission vote in chancery court, but time is an issue as the Aug. 7 ballot will have to be finalized soon. For the election commission to reconsider Dugan’s eligibility to be on the ballot, it will take a motion from one of the three members who voted to disqualify him, who were Tammy Kilgore, Melba Isom and Tim White. Since Johnson and Garton were not on the prevailing side, they cannot make the motion to reconsider. Dugan’s removal from the ballot leaves Holley unopposed in seeking a second eight-year term as municipal court judge.