Coincidence? Regardless, the very real threat to Shreveport Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins’ reelection due to illegal qualification seems to be a common outcome with recent electoral opponents of Democrat state Sen. Greg Traver.
Both qualified earlier in July, but at the deadline to challenge qualification, Perkins had a very serious one lodged against him that on its face looks more than sufficient to get him kicked off the ballot. State law requires that candidates, if they claim a homestead, must qualify at that homestead’s address, and that they have filed state income tax returns for the past five years.
For his adult life, Perkins has maintained voter registration – although he never voted until his own contest – at a southern Shreveport residence. But he filed a homestead exemption for a residence he owns in downtown Shreveport. Further, state records indicate no income tax filings for 2017 and 2018; in 2017 he appears to have lived out of state but he certainly was around in 2018 when he ran for mayor and drew a salary from an out-of-state employer, and he also likely drew disability payments from the Army in this period which would need reporting.
Failure to accurately identify on either account disqualifies a candidate. Worse, the suit claims this invalidates him as a qualified elector, which according to the Shreveport charter means he cannot hold office and must vacate it. However, the suit doesn’t seek to do that and merely challenges his qualification in the upcoming contest.
The suit originates from disgruntled owners of airport hangars at the city’s Downtown Airport. Perkins, also with his appointees to the facility’s governing board that itself generated plenty of controversy, has led a well-publicized campaign that resulted in the city taking ownership of hangars whose private owners had spent considerable sums in their construction. The lawyers involve say their clients have nothing to do with Tarver.
Nonetheless, in the previous two elections Tarver has contested since his return to the Senate qualified opponents have fallen by the wayside. After winning back the seat in 2011, in 2015 he won unopposed when perennial candidate Republican Jim Slagle withdrew, and in 2019 his most prominent challenger Democrat former state Rep. Barbara Norton and Perkins ally Shante Wells both suffered challenges launched by him; Wells withdrew but Norton stuck it out to be disqualified officially. Leaving only Slagle, Tarver easily won reelection.
Whether he has any connection with the challenge to Perkins, there is delicious irony here for Tarver. He actually doesn’t live in Shreveport, but can qualify because he can claim domicile because of his business located in the city, which he lists as his voter registration address. He was smart enough legally to rent residential space from his wife, who solely owns that property, and doesn’t claim a homestead.
And, in a way, if Perkins loses office this way, it’s fitting. Over his time in office much of the negativity that has surrounded it has come because of careless decisions he made that seemed questionable from the start but into which he plunged anyway, creating a number of incidences with questionable policy or ethical behavior choices on his part.
Not taking care of the details regarding his candidacy would fit the pattern. We’ll see whether the judiciary follows the letter of the law or if it will let him off the hook because of some technicality that he lives in Shreveport even if he used the wrong address and/or the sources of his income exempted him from filing.