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Gunasekara says her ballot fight continues

Mandy Gunasekara is continuing her battle to be on the Republican primary election ballot for Northern District Public Service Commissioner.  

Friday, Gunasekara sent an email to her supporters saying she is moving her fight to be on the ballot to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

“At this point, where we are three weeks away from candidates being formally submitted to the ballot for the forthcoming primary vote, this is less about my personal campaign for Public Service commissioner in the Northern District and more about righting a lingering wrong, or in the very least clarifying the matter of ‘citizenship,’” Gunasekara wrote in the email.  “After last week’s ruling from the Mississippi Supreme Court effectively booting me off the ballot, I’ve decided to appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court.”

Gunasekara has been in a legal battle trying to get her name on the battle while questions have continued about if her work in Washington, D.C. with the Trump administration and the Environmental Protection Agency prevent her from legally being on the ballot in Mississippi.  

The challenges, which started when Hernando attorney Matthew Barton filed a complaint with the state Republican Executive Committee, have seemingly gone back and forth to this point, just weeks away from the primary election on Aug. 8.

Barton lost his initial complaint, but appealed to a specially appointed judge who ruled Gunasekara had not met the five-year requirement to qualify to be on the ballot. 

She appealed that ruling to the state Supreme Court, which agreed the five-year requirement had not been met and Gunasekara could not have her name on the ballot, along with Tanner Newman of Tupelo and state Rep. Chris Brown (R-Nettleton).  

She claimed that she had a residence in Oxford that meets the requirement, however there was also a residence in Washington that kept her from meeting the required standard.  

“I’m a lifelong Mississippian with deep roots in our great state,” Gunasekara said. “Despite spending the majority of my life growing up, being educated, meeting my husband, and raising my children here, the Mississippi Supreme Court removed me based on a misapplication of the facts.”

She went on to say that “by the court’s standards, I am not eligible to run for this office for over 9 years.  This is not only unconstitutional but also a slap in the face to many Mississippians that have temporarily left the state and want to come back.”

Gunasekara said she would have additional announcements about the appeal early in the week.

With Brandon Presley, the current commissioner, in the running for governor, there is no Democrat on the ballot. Thus, the winner of the August Republican will effectively win the position on the three-member panel.  

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