Jackson can run for Jefferson School Board, judge rules _lowres

Rickeem Jackson, candidate for Jefferson Parish School Board

A state district court judge on Friday knocked down a residency challenge to Rickeem Jackson’s bid for the District 2 seat on the Jefferson Parish School Board, allowing the son of Saints Hall of Fame linebacker Rickey Jackson to run in the Nov. 4 election.

Another challenge, by School Board member Etta Licciardi against Phillip Huskey in the race for the District 3 seat, was successful.

The plaintiffs in the suit against Jackson said he should not be able to run for the newly created District 2 seat against Ricky Johnson and April Williams because he did not live in Louisiana for the required two-year period before qualifying last week.

Jackson is backed by Jefferson Parish Councilman Mark Spears, who represents the Harvey area and attended the hearing. Spears has claimed that the plaintiffs — Francienne Simmons, Maria Deloach, Vanessa Smith and Linda Johnson — are supporters of Cedric Floyd, a School Board member in a neighboring district. Floyd could not be reached for comment.

Attorney Ron Wilson argued before 24th Judicial District Judge Lee Faulkner that Jackson’s last real residence was in Florida, where he grew up with his mother as a child. He said the bank statements and college transcripts Jackson produced did not prove he lived in Louisiana before he graduated from college in May 2013.

Wilson also questioned Jackson’s overall qualifications, saying the 25-year-old has worked only for his father’s business interests and didn’t register to vote or get a driver’s license until last year.

Jackson’s attorney, Deborah Villio, said where Jackson lived as a child wasn’t the issue and that the burden of proof was on the plaintiffs to show he didn’t live in Jefferson for the past two years.

Jackson, who now lives in a house owned by his father, recalled two previous West Bank homes and a prior one in Metairie and said he was just like any other college student living out of state while attending junior college in California from 2009 to 2011 and Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh after that.

“I don’t consider that (his colleges) home,” he replied under questioning by Wilson. “I consider it going to school away from home.”

Jackson testified that he made an effort to reconnect with his father, who was in the courtroom Friday, after graduating from high school in 2009 by coming to live with him.

Villio said her client’s visits home, his involvement in the creation of the Rickey Jackson and Friends Community Hope Center and his job with his father’s meat company all suggested that he considered Louisiana his home.

In the other residency challenge, Licciardi argued successfully that Huskey could not run for the District 3 seat because he actually lives in District 1.

Huskey, who did not show up for the Friday morning hearing in Judge Raymond Steib’s court, told Nola.com on Thursday that he may have been led astray by staff at the Clerk of Court’s Office who told him he lived in District 3.

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.