Convicted sex offender allowed to stay on ballot for mayor in Texas

A Texas official says state election law limits the state's authority to initially declare a candidate ineligible.

Updated: March 5, 2021 - 12:02pm

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A Texas man is being allowed to stay on a mayoral ballot despite being a convicted sex offender.  

The candidate, Jerry Warden, is one of eight people running for mayor in the city of Arlington. He filed to enter the race on Feb. 11.

Warden is listed in the Texas registry of sex offenders after his conviction in 1996 for aggravated kidnapping and sexual abuse of a 24-year-old woman. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Texas election law forbids people with felony charges from running unless they are pardoned or had their rights restored.

A complaint about Warden's eligibility was filed by another mayor candidate, Jim Ross. He filed an inquiry with the city secretary's office on Feb. 22, according to the Dallas Morning News

In response to Ross' complaint, city secretary Alex Busken said that state election law limits his office's authority to declare a candidate ineligible. A candidate can only be determined ineligible due to their application or the documents presented with the inquiry.

Busken stated that Ross had provided a document showing Warden's listing on the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry and that the document conclusively established that Warden had been convicted of a felony. However, the document did not conclusively establish whether Warden had received a pardon or had his citizenship rights restored, Busken wrote.

Therefore, Ross' complaint does not establish that Warden is ineligible for the election, the newspaper also reports.

Warden told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he had his rights restored after he served his prison sentence.

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