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As election time nears, Linda Blackmon-Brace said she'd rather discuss issues such as business revitalization and local government spending. Instead, she's been busy defending whether she lives in District 3, where she's seeking a Lancaster City Council seat.
Blackmon-Brace, who is running against incumbent Audrey Curry, said she has lived in houses in three different districts over the past two years.
She said she first lived at 701 E. Arch St., located in District 2, but has since moved and converted that house into the Michael Blackmon Foundation headquarters. That group helps local children.
In March 2007, Blackmon-Brace said she moved briefly from Arch Street to 208 Plyler St., while renovating a house at 104 Rose Lane in District 3. She said she moved into the Rose Lane home in January 2008, and her brother now lives in the Plyler Street house.
Concerns of where Blackmon-Brace lived were reportedly brought to the attention of the Lancaster County Voter Registration and Election Commission, which began investigating where she lived.
Blackmon-Brace said she lives at the Rose Lane address and believes some people may be confused by where she parks her car.
She said she often leaves her car parked under a carport at the Arch Street house and walks to her house on Rose Lane, only a few blocks away. She said this may leave people with the impression that she lives at the Arch Street house.
"I filed at 104 Rose Lane as my permanent address when I moved around Christmas time," Blackmon-Brace said. "I don't know why this came out so late in the campaign."
Blackmon-Brace only recently became aware of an investigation into where she lives when a State Law Enforcement Division agent contacted her.
She was stunned to hear the news, she said, especially since she had never encountered a problem with the chairman of the commission, Rick Crimminger.
"It just blew me away," Blackmon-Brace said. "Why wasn't I given the courtesy of a simple telephone call?"
The whole issue could have been avoided, she said, if members of the commission had met with her personally. She said she believes she was singled out.
"To make it right, they should investigate everybody," Blackmon-Brace said. "And if I want to move again, I ought to have that choice."
Crimminger said the election commission received several complaints, alleging Blackmon-Brace did not live in District 3.
"I rode by both places, and I have an idea where she lives, but we need to research it," Crimminger said. "The only people that can do the verification are SLED. We could have asked the (Lancaster County) Sheriff's Office, but we wanted someone completely outside the issue, so that nobody says it's tainted."
According to the S.C. State Election Commission's Web site, the residency requirement to run for county public office is that the candidate must be a resident of the county or district at the time of the election.
Crimminger said this means that if Blackmon-Brace does not live in District 3, she has until Nov. 4 to do so.
In nonpartisan elections, the election commission is responsible for accepting applications for positions on the school board, City Council and watershed districts. As such, the commission checks where those running for office are registered to vote, where they live and where their vehicles are registered.
Crimminger said this helps confirm that candidates are living in the districts they run for office in.
"We wanted to make sure everything was on the up and up," Crimminger said. "Our question is where is her residence established right now. If she's living in the district now, fine. But if not, she's got to."
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at email@example.com or at (803) 416-8416