Arlington officials say a convicted sex offender can remain on the ballot for mayor after another candidates filed a complaint.
Jerry Warden filed for the Arlington mayoral race on Feb. 11, joining seven other residents seeking to become the city’s 27th mayor. Mayor Jeff Williams is serving his third and final term, and is not eligible to run again for the position due to Arlington term limit laws.
Warden holds a lifetime listing on the Texas Public Sex Offenders Registry after being convicted in 1996 on charges of kidnapping and sexually abusing a 24-year-old woman. Warden ended up serving a 15-year prison sentence, according to sex offender registry documents.
Jim Ross, another Arlington mayoral candidate, filed a inquiry with the city secretary’s office on Feb. 22, about Warden’s eligibility for the race. Under Texas Election Code, a candidate with a prior felony is only eligible for an election if they have been pardoned or had their full citizenship rights restored.
In response to Ross’ inquiry, city secretary Alex Busken said in a memo, that Texas Election Code limits his office’s authority to declare a candidate ineligible. A candidate can only be determined ineligible due to their application or the documents presented with the inquiry.
Busken stated that Ross had provided a document showing Warden’s listing on the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry and that the document conclusively established that Warden had been convicted of a felony. But, this document did not conclusively establish if Warden had received a pardon or had his citizenship rights restored, Busken wrote.
Therefore, Ross’ inquiry does not reveal that Warden is ineligible for the election.