Although he told the Indy and other media outlets he was going to withdraw from the race for Durham County sheriff today, Republican candidate Roy Taylor now says he's reconsidering.
Taylor might just continue his campaign against four-term incumbent Worth Hill, he said Wednesday. He has yet to announce his final intentions, but he said he might still be a qualified candidate under state election law after listening to the interpretations of several local attorneys.
Taylor initially thought he would step down because he has not lived in Durham County consecutively for the past year. He lived in Wake County last year from July to December, he said. That fact came to light after Taylor applied to renew his permit to carry a concealed weapon in Durham.
Taylor listed his past addresses on that application, he said. When a sergeant at the Durham County Sheriff's Office was checking information in the application, he found that Taylor has current addresses in both Raleigh and Durham, according to a statement released Wednesday by Major Paul Martin of the Durham County Sheriff's Office (PDF). According to the Sheriff's Office statement, Taylor has an apartment in his name in the Brier Creek area of Raleigh with a lease through November of this year, as well as his current apartment on University Road in Durham.
Taylor said he hasn't lived at the Brier Creek apartment since moving to Durham and wasn't aware the lease was still active. He said he never paid rent for the apartment because it was given to him free because his company provided security to the complex.
The statement from the Sheriff's office contends also that Taylor's address from Dec. 2009 to May 2010, which Taylor used in filing for office, is actually a business. But tax records describe the property at 2222 Glover Road as a three-bedroom home. Taylor said he lived there with a former girlfriend. Taylor said he then moved to his current apartment on University Road and has lived there since July.
Because he hasn't lived in Durham for 12 consecutive months, Taylor believed he was ineligible to become sheriff. But after consulting with attorneys, he said he's now questioning whether an exemption under state law (GS 163-57, section 2) that says a person doesn't lose residency if he moves to another state, county, etc., for temporary purposes with the intention of returning. Taylor said he moved to Wake County temporarily after selling the Durham home he owned with his former wife, and that he always intended to return to Durham.
Taylor said he would announce soon whether he intends to stay in the sheriff's race. Meanwhile, Hill said he was going to continue his campaign and that it would be up to elections officials to determine whether Taylor is actually eligible to become sheriff.
Hill said he didn't know who publicized the discrepancies in Taylor's gun permit application, but that it was not on his orders and that he doesn't intend to run a negative campaign. But, Hill said, Taylor has continued to say negative things about his office and command staff, and now has lied about his residence.
"He keeps stretching the truth. And so it’s come out now," Hill said.
On the other side, Taylor said Hill and other members of the sheriff's office inappropriately pushed information about his past addresses out to the media instead of contacting him personally about the discrepancies and how they affected his gun permit.
"They're so scared about losing, they’re desperate, and they’re doing everything they can to cloud the issue and make allegations that are unfounded," Taylor said.
If Taylor decides to stay in the race and unseats Hill, Hill could challenge the victory, and then it would be up to elections officials as to whether Taylor really meets the residency requirements under the law. If he isn't eligible, the office would be vacant and would have to be filled by Durham County Commissioners.