Laramie’s City Council candidate Jessica Rae Stalder took to her campaign's Facebook page Thursday to rebuke rumors that she doesn't live in the city's Ward 1 which she intends to represent. And according to the Albany County Clerk, voters intending to cast their ballots for Stalder should feel confident she is eligible.
“After consulting appropriate legal counsel, they found no issue with my fitness to run or my residency in Ward 1,” Stalder said in the post. “As the general election approaches I’ve been getting an increasing number of phone calls about this issue, most anonymous, some threatening. These callers say that I don’t live in Ward 1 and question my integrity. I don’t know who is making these calls, or what they hope to gain.”
Stalder said she’s lived in Ward 1 since she bought her house in 2008 but has been “spending some nights” taking care of her sick grandmother, who lives in Ward 3.
She added running for City Council “shouldn’t involve dirty politics” and she is “deeply disturbed” by the calls she’s been getting, especially because the callers are contacting her at work.
“If you think that caring for my family in a temporary and difficult time makes me unfit to humbly ask voters if I may serve on the City Council, please tell me who you are, and why you think this,” Stalder said in the post.
Stalder said she’s not sure if the calls are from another campaign, and she’s not interested in negative politics.
“That’s not even how my brain works,” Stalder said. “That’s just not me, I want to run a clean campaign and be positive. … When it comes down to being nasty to each other, I’m not interested in that at all.”
According to municipal code, a person will not lose their residence “by leaving his or her home to go to another state, another district of this state, another ward within the city of Laramie, or to another country for temporary purposes, with the intent of returning, if he or she has not registered in the other state district or ward.”
Albany County Clerk Jackie Gonzales said the state's election code requirements for residency also mentions intent of returning to the property.
“Residency in the election code is defined,” Gonzales said. “It basically says that residence is the place of a person’s actual habitation. … Residency is the place where a person has a current habitation, and to which whenever he is absent he has intention of returning.”
Gonzales said she also received an anonymous phone call before the Aug. 21 primary election questioning the validity of Stadler’s address, but found no evidence to support the claim.
“Of course, it was an anonymous individual who called and said they believed that she did not live in Ward 1,” Gonzales said. “So, I called and spoke to Jessica personally, and she did confirm to me that she does live in Ward 1. ... I did go downstairs to see her application to see her application that she completed. Her address is in Ward 1. She does list the same address on her report of contributions.”
Gonzales added she would be glad to look into it further if someone were to come forward.
“I believe she has the intent of returning to her residence whether or not she’s caring for her grandmother or whatever the situation may be,” Gonzales said. “Personally, I don’t think it is a violation of the statute, and I would be interested if someone is claiming that she is in violation, if they would share their analogy and under what basis. I certainly would be happy to look into it and review it.”
Laramie City Clerk Nancy Bartholomew said the city has not received an official address change and have not “had any conversations in regard to that yet.”
“If they’ve actually sold their residence or physically moved, then that would disqualify them,” Bartholomew added.
The Boomerang reached out to the City Attorney's office but did not receive comment before deadline Friday.
Stalder said she cares about transparency and wanted to “set the record straight.”
“I just wanted to be honest where I’m coming from,” Stalder said. “I do spend a lot of nights at my grandma’s house and if there’s a rumor I’d rather just address that and hopefully talk about something else. This is my situation, I’m not trying to do anything unethical. … I want it to be about the issues. … Let’s talk about infrastructure or talk about taxes or whatever, not talk about where I sleep at night. If that’s a concern, give me a call.”