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Gunasekara appeals to U.S. Supreme Court to be reinstated on ballot

Mandy Gunasekara
Photo courtesy of Mandy Gunasekara

Recently disqualified candidate for Mississippi’s public service commission Mandy Gunasekara has filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of getting back on this year’s ballot.

Gunasekara, who served as an official with the Environmental Protection Agency under former President Donald Trump, is seeking an emergency stay in the Mississippi Supreme Court’s May 11 decision deeming her ineligible to run for office.

The state’s highest court disqualified Gunasekara from pursuing the northern district’s seat on the commission over a residency requirement that the former candidate failed to meet.

Gunasekara and her husband received a homestead reduction on property taxes in Washington, D.C. as recently as 2021. The Republican also voted in a D.C. election on November 6, 2018. State law requires a candidate to live in Mississippi for five years before seeking a position on the Public Service Commission.

However, the Republican has continued to maintain that her primary address has been in Mississippi since 2018, testifying that she and her husband purchased a property in Decatur in August 2018 with renovations lasting from September 2018 until June 2019.

Justice Samuel Alito of the U.S. Supreme Court has already responded to Gunasekara’s appeal and requested Matthew Barton file a response to Mandy’s application by noon on Monday, June 5. Barton, a candidate for district attorney in DeSoto County, was the one who originally filed the residency challenge against Gunasekara.

“I’m a seventh-generation Mississippian with deep roots to my home state. It’s absurd that after I’ve lived here for the majority of my life, a local judge decided I’m not Mississippi enough to run for the public service commission in the northern district,” Gunasekara said. “As currently applied, the law is unconstitutional and an affront to the men and women of Mississippi who deserve the opportunity to vote for a qualified, constitutional conservative. That’s why I’m taking this fight to the U.S. Supreme Court, and I appreciate Justice Alito’s swift response on my request.”

Barring an overturning of the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision, Tanner Newman and Chris Brown remain the only Republican candidates seeking the commission’s northern district seat with no Democrats vying for the position currently held by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brandon Presley.

Mississippi’s primary elections are scheduled to be held on August 8. The full brief submitted by Gunasekara’s legal team can be read here.

Formerly disqualified Democratic gubernatorial candidate wins lawsuit against party, back on ballot

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