Port Wentworth mayoral candidate’s qualification challenged due to previous prison sentence
PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (WTOC) - A candidate for mayor in Port Wentworth will have to explain why he is eligible to run for public office after a citizen filed a formal objection.
The objection against Julius Hall is about how much time has passed since he served a 22-year federal prison sentence for running a crack cocaine drug trafficking ring.
Hall defended his candidacy Tuesday during a press conference, and he will have a chance to present his side on Friday during an evidentiary hearing at Port Wentworth City Hall.
Federal court records state that in 1988, Hall was a corporal with the Savannah Police Department and during that time he also organized and ran a crack-cocaine trafficking operation that extended from South Florida to Savannah.
He was convicted in 1991 and sentenced to life in prison. The sentence was later reduced to 25 years.
According to Bureau of Prison, Hall served 22 years. He completed his sentence eight years ago in 2013. It’s his completion date that has become the centerfold issue after he filed for public office two weeks ago.
Hall is running for mayor in the November election.
A Port Wentworth citizen named Jodi Hawks has challenged Hall’s qualifications.
He says Hall is in direct violation of Section II, Paragraph III of the state constitution, which has to do with persons not eligible to hold office. It reads: “No person who is not a registered voter; who has been convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude, unless that person’s civil rights have been restored and at least ten years have elapsed from the date of the completion of the sentence without a subsequent conviction of another felony involving moral turpitude.”
During a press conference Tuesday morning outside of Port Wentworth City Hall, Hall revealed that his civil and political rights have been restored by the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, which he says allows him to run for public office.
“I received my restoration of civil and political rights on January 26th of 2021,” Hall said. “The restoration restored my rights immediately. Those restored rights include the right to sit on the jury, become a notary of the public and the right to run and hold public office.”
Hall also provided documentation from the state parole board.
The state’s restoration of rights and the Georgia Constitution seem to directly contradict each other. It’s an issue the Port Wentworth elections superintendent will have to decide. The hearing is at 10 a.m. on Friday.
Seating is limited, but WTOC will be there to report what happens.
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