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Special judge appointed to determine Gunasekara’s eligibility as PSC candidate

Mandy Gunasekara
Photo courtesy of Mandy Gunasekara

A special judge has been appointed to determine if Mandy Gunasekara is eligible to run for Northern District Public Service Commissioner, despite the Mississippi GOP deeming her a qualified candidate.

Copiah County judge Lamar Pickard will decide the candidate’s eligibility following a residency challenge filed by DeSoto County attorney Matthew Barton, which alleges that Gunasekara has not lived in Mississippi for at least five years before the date of the election.

Gunasekara, who formerly served as chief of staff at the Environmental Protection Agency under former President Donald Trump, was being questioned regarding public records that showed she and her husband had received a homestead reduction on property taxes in Washington, D.C. in 2021.

According to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office, candidates for PSC must live in-state for at least five years before the date of the election.

Gunasekara, who has maintained that her primary address has been in Oxford since 2018, last voted in a D.C. election on Nov. 6, 2018. General elections in Mississippi are set for Nov. 7, 2023.

“I look forward to a swift judicial resolution to this frivolous case. As I’ve said all along, I have always been a citizen of Mississippi, and I meet the qualifications to run for PSC,” Gunasekara told SuperTalk Mississippi News.

Pickard has set a hearing for the case on March 22 at 11 a.m. in Hinds County. Following the judge’s ruling, both sides will have an opportunity to appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

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