Raleigh, N.C. — The State Board of Elections said Friday that Matt Hoerner won election to the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners even though he moved to South Korea a few days before the election.
Megan Larson, a town resident, filed a complaint with the board, citing an email that Hoerner had written saying that if he were elected, he would be unable to serve. Larson told the board that it was unfair for someone to run if they didn't intend to take office.
Hoerner was one of six candidates for five commission seats. The sixth-place finisher in the race was former town Commissioner Tonzie Collins, who was removed from his position in September after years of complaints from town employees accusing him of sexual harassment and intimidation. Collins has denied those reports.
Larson said the Cumberland County Board of Elections should have removed Hoerner from the ballot or at least actively informed residents he no longer resided in the country.
But Don Wright, a lawyer for the state Board of Elections, told board members that, even though he was moving overseas, Hoerner was still a qualified voter of the town under state and federal law and qualified to campaign and hold office.
Larson said that was unfair, since Hoerner's election merely blocked someone else from winning.
State board members disagree.
"Everyone who runs for office has a motive," said Joshua Malcolm, a board member.
At the end of Friday's hearing on the case, the board voted to certify Hoerner's election. If he fails to get sworn in, it will be up to the remaining town commission members to replace him.