Several West Bank residents allege that a candidate for the Jefferson Parish School Board hasn’t lived in the state long enough to qualify for the seat, drawing counter allegations from that candidate’s campaign manager that a sitting School Board member in another district is interfering in the race.
A lawsuit filed Monday seeks to have Rickeem Jackson, son of former New Orleans Saints All-Pro linebacker Rickey Jackson, disqualified from the race. The suit alleges that Jackson has lived in Louisiana for less than the two years required to qualify for the election.
“My clients are concerned that someone who has no presence in the community is seeking a seat on the School Board. They’re very concerned about that,” said Ronald Wilson, the attorney representing the four women who filed the suit: Francienne Simmons, Maria Deloach, Vanessa Smith and Linda Johnson.
Wilson said Jackson has lived out of state for most his life, having grown up in Florida and gone to junior college in California and then Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania before recently moving to Jefferson Parish. Jackson did not have a Louisiana driver’s license and was not registered to vote in the state until recently, Wilson said.
In addition to seeking testimony from Jackson, Wilson also has called on him to produce documentation showing where he has lived, including tax forms, school transcripts and driver’s licenses.
But Jefferson Parish Councilman Mark Spears, who is serving as Jackson’s campaign manager, said his candidate has always considered Louisiana his home and that his official domicile while at school was his father’s house in Jefferson Parish. Jackson used to spend his college breaks there, and it should be considered his home based on his intent to “remain in Louisiana indefinitely,” Spears said.
“You don’t lose residency by going to college,” he said.
Spears also alleged the suit is the work of School Board member Cedric Floyd. He said some of the women who filed the suit have been pictured in campaign fliers for Floyd.
Wilson also represented Floyd when his residency was challenged in his 2010 race for the School Board. Floyd won that case.
Floyd did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
Ask whether those involved in the suit are working for any candidates, Wilson said of his clients, “I don’t know if they are. I’m certainly not.”
Jackson is running for the School Board’s District 2 seat against Ricky Johnson and April Williams. The district was redrawn in 2012 to make it the board’s second district with a majority-black electorate. The other minority district, District 5, is represented by Floyd, who has drawn two opponents.
The case is set to be heard Friday in 24th Judicial District Court.