District judge candidate Evan Stubbs stands by his Burnet County residency claim

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

BURNET — When Evan Stubbs announced his intention earlier this year to file to seek the Republican Party nomination for the 424th District Judge position, it didn’t take long for questions to begin swirling about his residency qualifications.

Stubbs, who’s office is in Lampasas, claims Burnet County residency. Under state law, a person must live within the district for two years before the general election to be a district judge.

Several public documents raise some questions regarding Stubbs’ residency. And even his office received a copy of a list outlining 11 challenges to Stubbs’ residency.

“I regret the campaign has taken such a negative turn before the filing period has even opened,” Stubbs said in a written statement. “But I feel I must respond to the residency issue (my opponent) has raised.”

Dan Mills, the current 424th District Judge, has stated his intention to file for re-election. He wouldn’t comment on Stubbs’ residency issue but said, in the end, it’s up to the voters to determine the facts and act on them accordingly.

With the district judge seat on the November 2014 general election ballot, for Stubbs to qualify as a resident, he would have had to claim residency in one of the district’s four counties — Burnet, Llano, San Saba or Blanco — by early November 2012. According to voter registration documents, Stubbs first claimed Burnet County residency in June 2011. In the “residence address” box, Stubbs gave 3530 CR 105 as his address, but the Burnet County addressing office has no record of the address nor does the county have any septic permit for the property.

When he resigned from the Lampasas City Council in 2011, one of the reasons he cited was he and his wife wanted to move into the country and had plans do so in the future.

Stubbs said he moved to the CR 105 address with a very close family friend who he’s known all his life. He pointed out, along with changing his voter’s registration, he changed his driver’s license to match the new address and even purchased a hunting license to reflect the move.

The house doesn’t have any visible street address or even a mail box, but Stubbs said it does exists and has been there for more than 80 years. He added the reason the county probably doesn’t have a septic permit is no such thing was required when the house and septic system were first built.

Stubbs believes he might have made a mistake with the “3530″ number, and that it should have been “3450.” Burnet County Appraisal District records don’t show any house at the 3530 location but have one recorded at the 3430 site.

He added that, during this time, his wife and children lived at a residence on South Spring Street in the city of Lampasas.

The Stubbses began construction of a home on FM 1478 in Burnet County in early 2012. During this period, Stubbs said he maintained his Burnet County residency while his wife and kids continued to live at the South Spring Street address.

The next issue revolves around the Stubbses’ voting records. In October 2012, Evan Stubbs changed his residence from the CR 105 address to the house on FM 1478. He then voted in the November 2012 general election in Burnet County.

According to Lampasas County voting records, his wife voted in the Lampasas County general election. Stubbs said he doesn’t know where his wife voted during that particular election but, if she hadn’t changed her resident address, then it would have been proper for her to cast her ballot in Lampasas County.

“You might also note that she is not running for any elected office and her residency is not relevant to anyone other than my opponent in this attempt at a smear campaign,” Stubbs stated.

On the affidavit of completion for the FM 1478 residence, however, the the couple put Dec. 15, 2012, as the completion date. If Evan Stubbs’ residency qualification couldn’t be established through his claim of living at the CR 105 address since the previous year, he would have had to at least live in the FM 1478 residence starting in early November 2012.

Stubbs countered he and his wife filled out the affidavit of completion in March 2013 when they signed the paperwork for permanent financing, and the Dec. 15 date was “basically, a randomly selected date,” but it was one after the final completion. Yet, the paperwork defines “completion” as the actual completion of all work.

Another issue that’s surfaced concerns a homestead exemption. According to public records from the Lampasas County Central Appraisal District, Stubbs paid property taxes on Dec. 28, 2012, for the South Spring Street property in Lampasas. The document showed the Stubbses utilized their homestead exemption for the Lampasas residence, not the FM 1478 home.

Stubbs pointed out he and his wife only claimed the homestead exemption, for 2012 tax purposes, on one piece of property. He also added, since his wife lived at the Spring Street address on Jan. 1, 2012, they were acting within the law.

“It does not require that both of us reside there, it simply limits us, as a married couple, from claiming an exemption on two separate pieces of property, which we did not,” Stubbs said.

In March 2013, the Stubbs applied to the Burnet County Appraisal District for a homestead exemption for the FM 1478 home. This, Stubbs pointed out, was correct since the paperwork needed to be filed by April 30 for he and his wife to claim the homestead exemption on their new residence.

The couple sold the Spring Street home in April 2013 and did not claim a homestead exemption on it for that year.

In the end, Stubbs said he’s clearly demonstrated he’s met the required residency requirement despite alleged accusations he hasn’t.

“I clearly declared Burnet County as my residency on (June 29, 2011), and I declared the FM 1478 address as my residency when I voted in October 2012,” he said.

Stubbs said he’s no stranger to Burnet County or the rest of the judicial district. As an attorney, he’s represented clients in each of the district courthouses. And Stubbs added he grew up in Johnson City, where he attended school from kindergarten through 12th grade.

His family has deep roots in the area, with his mother’s side going back six generations in Burnet County and his father’s side going back five generations in Blanco County.

“My wife and I chose to move back here to raise our kids and to make this place our home,” Stubbs added. “I have chosen to run for office and to undergo the inconvenience of making sure that I meet the residency requirements simply because I believe that I can make a positive difference for the people of this district.”

Stubbs and Mills agreed on one thing: In the end, it’s up to the voters to weigh the facts and the information and then make their decisions.

People interested in running in the March 4 primaries can officially begin filing Nov. 9. While Stubbs and Mills have announced their intention to file, there is still time for other candidates to enter the race. The deadline for filing for the 2014 Republican and Democratic primaries is Dec. 9.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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