@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Wake candidate wins judgeship, then disqualified because he doesn't live in district

Posted November 18, 2020 8:45 p.m. EST
Updated November 18, 2020 9:04 p.m. EST

— A Wake County attorney who won a local election for District Court judge won't get the job because he didn't actually live in the district.

The Wake County Board of Elections deemed Democrat Tim Gunther ineligible Wednesday for a District Court seat he'd otherwise won by nearly 13,000 votes. Now, Gov. Roy Cooper will fill the seat by appointment.

Gunther listed a Fuquay-Varina address on his campaign paperwork, and he's registered to vote there. But he's been living in Cary, outside of judicial district 10F.

"There was an abundance of evidence," Wake County Board of Elections Chairman Greg Flynn said Wednesday night. "Some of it was overwhelming."

Flynn said Gunther's attorney "basically admitted" the candidate didn't live in the district. It was unclear Wednesday what further repercussions Gunther might face, but it's illegal to make false declarations on election paperwork.

The News & Observer was the first to report the results of the elections board's hearing, which WRAL News confirmed with Flynn. The Carolina Journal was the first to report on Gunther's residency issues, and a local retired attorney filed a protest after Gunther appeared to win the race.

The Fuquay-Varina house is owned by Gunther's ex-wife and daughter. He owns the home in Cary, Wake County property records show.

Local Republicans hired a private investigator to look for him at both locations. Flynn said that, in a statement to the board on Wednesday, Gunther said he intended to move to the district, "but with COVID and everything, it just went awry."

Flynn said state law doesn't allow the board to elevate the second-place candidate, Republican Beth Tanner, to the judgeship. State law allows the governor to fill vacancies on the district court bench from a slate of candidates submitted by the local bar.

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