On Thursday, Durham City Council member Javiera Caballero announced on Twitter that the State Board of Elections had dismissed an appeal challenging her eligibility to appear on the November ballot. 

Queridos, I am thrilled to announce that the complaint against me has been dismissed. Please see below for a statement from the NC Board of Elections. I am so grateful for the outpouring of support during this process…onward to November 5th!https://t.co/A5kBzgBzEF

— Javiera Caballero (@JCparaDurham) October 24, 2019

According to her statement, SBE executive director Karen Brinson Bell called the complaint—filed by unsuccessful candidate Victoria Peterson after the October 8 primary and quickly rejected by the Durham County Board of Elections—“spurious.”

“The agency should not tolerate spurious allegations that abuse our State’s electoral processes,” Brinson Bell wrote. “Election protests must be based on facts and evidence, not fear and intolerance.”

Peterson’s complaint, which was filed without evidence, challenged Caballero’s citizenship, arguing that while Caballero told voters that her family emigrated from Chile, “Ms. Caballero has not publicly stated not one time that she is a citizen of the United States nor has she stated the length of time she has lived in the State of North Carolina.”

According to state records, Caballero has been a registered voter in North Carolina since at least 1996 has voted in Durham since 2010. In effect, Peterson was accusing Caballero of committing felony voting fraud. 

“I’m not against her. I don’t dislike her,” Peterson told the INDY earlier this month. “She has never shared with us, what is her legal status? Is she a resident? Is she a U.S. citizen? Does she carry a green card? All I’m asking is, can she show proof that she has gone through the immigration process to show she is a U.S. citizen?”

On Wednesday, Caballero asked her supporters to help her raise money for her legal defense

“The degree of negativity during this election has been painful,” she wrote in a statement. “My opposition has lobbed hurtful words that create division and will make it harder to do the important, necessary work after November 5th, no matter who wins. Out of support, many have sought to diminish Mrs. Peterson’s allegation. This has caused a great deal of turmoil for me. Victoria Peterson’s complaint, although ludicrous, is also extremely dangerous. There has been an ugly anti-immigrant and nativist streak throughout this election. Hers is just the most egregious example of it. … Unfortunately, the costs of my campaign now include expenses associated with responding to this complaint, and I will need to raise an additional $5,000 to cover accrued and anticipated legal fees.”

In her statement today, Caballero says that “she raised enough to cover my incurred legal fees.” 

In a primary sometimes marred by divisions between Durham’s African American and Hispanic political camps, Caballero, who was appointed to an at-large seat on the council in January 2018, received the third-highest vote tally, just behind fellow incumbents Jillian Johnson and Charlie Reece, with whom she is campaigning on the Bull City Together slate. On November 5, those three will square off against Joshua Gunn, Daniel Meier, and Jackie Wagstaff. The top-three vote-getters will win four-year terms. 

Contact staff writer Thomasi McDonald at tmcdonald@indyweek.com.

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