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Judge deems Gunasekara ineligible to run for public service commission; appeal expected

Mandy Gunasekara
Photo courtesy of Mandy Gunasekara

Circuit Court Judge Lamar Pickard has ruled Mandy Gunasekara ineligible to run for public service commission, despite the Mississippi GOP recently deeming her eligible.

Gunasekara, a Republican seeking the commission’s northern district seat, has been under scrutiny alleging she has not lived in Mississippi for the required amount of time to run for public office. According to the Secretary of State’s Office, candidates for PSC must live in-state for at least five years before the date of the election.

Public records show that the Gunasekara, a former EPA official within the Trump administration, and her husband received a homestead reduction on property taxes in Washington, D.C. as recently as 2021. However, she has maintained that her primary address has been in Oxford since 2018, last voting in a D.C. election on Nov. 6, 2018. This year’s primaries are set for Nov. 7.

“As I have said all along, I have aways been a citizen of Mississippi, and I meet the qualifications for PSC,” Gunasekara previously told SuperTalk Mississippi News.

As reported by The Daily Journal, Judge Pickard informed attorneys Thursday evening that Gunasekara has not shown substantial proof of Mississippi citizenship for the last five years.

“It is admitted by the respondent that she voted in Washington D.C. on November 6, 2018, clearly expressing her declaration of citizenship in Washington D.C. at that time,” Pickard wrote. “There is nothing in the evidence that indicates any change in that intent following that 24-hour period.”

Following receiving the letter, Gunasekara went to Twitter to further argue her citizenship while alluding to a future appeal of the ruling.

“The fight is not over, it’s merely on to round three,” she wrote. “Mississippi voters deserve an experienced candidate that will deliver on building a brighter future in our great state guided by conservative values, and I intend to deliver on this promise.”

If the Mississippi Supreme Court does not reinstate Gunasekara as a candidate, the battle for the seat of northern district public service commissioner will be between state Representative Chris Brown and Tupelo city official Tanner Newman, who are both running as Republicans.

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