FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Former candidate for Fort Worth’s District 8 council seat, Chris Nettles, announced Wednesday he will contest the election against incumbent Kelly Allen Gray, who won re-election on Saturday, May 4.
Nettles said he will file a civil lawsuit Thursday on the basis of voter fraud. “We would not have done this if we didn’t feel that the race was not fair.”
He and his campaign are focusing their attention on the absentee ballots.
Nettles said he believes hundreds of signatures on the applications for them and envelopes that contained the ballots are questionable.
“I believe there’s over 250 of them that were cast fraudulently. Ninety-three would get us to a number that would force a runoff,” said Nettles.
He will ask a judge to reject the absentee ballots and only consider the early voting and election day results.
Nettles said he believes that would give him enough votes to make a runoff.
For her part, Council Member Gray denied any wrongdoing. “We don’t commit fraud. I run a race that is classy, that is dignified and full of integrity. I stay in my lane,” she said.
Nettles said one issue is the absentee ballot results.
The Tarrant County Elections office shows Gray won 394 votes, while Nettles received 114 votes.
A third candidate, Kevin Johnson, received 32 votes.
Gray won far more absentee ballots than she did during in-person early voting and on election day.
In early voting, she received 864 votes, while Nettles won 719 votes, and Johnson had 116.
It was narrower on Election Day with Gray topping Nettles, 730-650, and Johnson had 98.
Nettles said, “If you have more people who cast their ballots in person, that means they’re devoted to their community and they want to see a change and if we’re neck and neck, it means District 8 is divided into two of who they want to lead. When you have absentee votes and they take 73% to 29%, then to me, that raised a red flag and that means you have a group of people who said we know exactly who they want and we don’t believe that’s true.”
In response, Gray said, “I don’t do ugly and I don’t allow people around me to do ugly. This, by far, has been the unclassiest race that I have ever been involved in thanks to my opponent.”
Nettles showed us two of the 250 signatures that he said need to be reviewed more closely.
We showed a photo of the signatures to Dorothy Allen, and she told us that even though they look differently, they are in fact hers.
The 94-year-old said she occasionally has trouble writing.
CBS 11 also spoke with Randy Bauer, whose signature Nettles also questioned.
Bauer, 71, said by phone he was the only one who signed his name on the application and envelope.
Nettles and his campaign manager told CBS 11 after they file their civil lawsuit, they will contact the voters whose signatures they question.
He also said he will file a criminal complaint, but wouldn’t specify the target of his allegations.
Nettles said, “We owe it to the voters of District 8 to have who they decided to have and in this election, we believe it was going into a runoff.”
But Gray said Nettles’ claims are disconcerting and saddening.
She said her goal every election is to win in each category: absentee ballots, early voting and on Election Day.
Gray said it is Nettles who has a lack of integrity. “You know, the race is over and here again, it’s very disappointing that my opponent lost and yet he continues with this foolishness.”