On Friday night, the Durham County Board of Elections dismissed a protest challenging, without evidence, incumbent Javiera Caballero’s eligibility to run for Durham City Council.
In the ten-person primary last week, Caballero finished third. (She was appointed in January 2018 to fill the remainder of Mayor Steve Schewel’s term; this is her first election.) Victoria Peterson, who filed the complaint on Thursday, finished seventh—missing the cutoff to move on to the November general election.
Peterson says that a few weeks ago, she began receiving calls from residents telling her that “Ms. Caballero may not be a U.S. citizen.”
“I’m not against her. I don’t dislike her,” Peterson says. “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?”
The protest Peterson filed with BOE contained no evidence that Caballero is not a citizen, nor did it offer any witnesses to challenge her status. Rather, it says, 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.”
That was the entirety of Peterson’s case, which was quickly dismissed for lack of evidence the next evening.
Peterson says she intends to file an appeal Monday with the State Board of Elections in Raleigh.
“I don’t think the county wanted to touch it with a ten-foot pole,” she says. “They don’t have the manpower.”
“Quite frankly, I’m not going to add fuel to the fire,” Caballero says. “This anti-immigration rhetoric is sad for Durham, and quite frankly, painful for me.”
According to state records, Caballero has been a registered voter in North Carolina since at least 1996 has voted in Durham since 2010.
In a statement Sunday, the top-three primary finishers—Jillian Johnson, Charlie Reece, and Caballero, who campaigned as a slate and won the endorsement of the INDY and the People’s Alliance—said, “This is not the first time during the course of this election that our three campaigns have been subjected to baseless accusations. We have always chosen to focus our attention in this campaign on the issues that matter to the people of the city of Durham. While this allegation is hurtful and harmful, it is also an opportunity for Durham to recommit to inclusivity and our belief that Durham is for everyone.”
Contact staff writer Thomasi McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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