Second Ward candidate challenges eligibility of opponent with similar name

Clear Lake Second Ward City Council candidate Bennett Smith has submitted a formal challenge to the listing of a challenger’s name, “Ben Smith,” on the November General Election ballot in its current form.

Bennett Smith submitted a letter of challenge to the Cerro Gordo County Auditor at 4:10 p.m. Monday, Sept. 25.

Smith wrote, “Jack Leroy Smith has turned in nomination petitions and an Affidavit of Candidacy that was submitted under the name of “Ben” Smith. While I recognize that family and friends of Jack Smith may refer to him as ‘Ben’ I believe that if his legal name is Jack Smith, then that would be the appropriate name to list on the ballot. Listing his name as ‘Ben’ on the ballot will cause unnecessary confusion for voters who may not know each of us personally given that my name (and legal name) is ‘Bennett’ Smith, and will create an undue burden on voters to correctly identify and make a fully informed choice for a candidate in the Second Ward of Clear Lake.”

The Clear Lake City Council has scheduled a special Council meeting for 7:30 a.m. today (Wednesday, Sept. 27)  for the sole purpose of selecting a member of the City Council to serve along with the Mayor and City Clerk on a three-person panel to determine the eligibility and candidacy of “Ben” Smith for Ward 2 City Council.

According to Clear Lake City Administrator Scott Flory, the panel will tentatively meet at 3:30 p.m. Friday to decide the  issue.

By law, the City has seven days to select a member of the Council, hold the hearing, and determine whether the candidacy of Ben Smith may proceed to the general election in November.

Ben Smith said Tuesday he was aware of the challenge and had been communicating with his opponent over the past few days.  Bennett Smith had stated his intention to challenge.

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