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Council President Disputes New Residency Concerns
PRICHARD, Ala. (WPMI) Prichard City Council President Earline Martin-Harris maintains her primary residence is within city limits despite records obtained by Local 15 which suggest her primary residence is in Baldwin County.
According to information contained in the records provided by Baldwin County School District Spokesperson Terry Wilhite, Martin-Harris is listed as the primary guardian for her two children. Their primary address is listed is in Daphne. Wilhite said the district uses the records to establish the legitimacy of the residency for students.
"I believe that you all are misreading the information," Martin-Harris said after Thursday night's council meeting, "If you'll look further, you will see that their father is their primary guardian, and their father lives in Daphne and that has been my position since 2009," she said.
The Councilwoman added the issue of her residency has been questioned before, and the reason it's being questioned now is because of politics.
"Absolutely, it's politically motivated," she said.
"Whenever you make a decision regardless of what that decision is, you're always going to have opposition and if you don't make a decision that's favorable to them, don't make a decision that they want you to make, they go for the jugular and this is what's going on in the City of Prichard," Martin-Harris said of what she felt was the reason the issue was being pursued.
In a special report Monday night, Martin-Harris defended her residency concerns, telling Local 15 Reporter Andrea Ramey the councilwoman never established residency in Baldwin County, rather her husband did, in order for her children to attend school there.
She said she spends the majority of her time at the home she owns in Prichard.
She also questioned the accuracy of the information released by the school district to Local 15 in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. The records were never physically turned over to this news organization, rather information contained in the records were relayed by Wilhite after consulting the district's attorneys.
Contained in the information was a reference to an address in Bay Minette. Martin-Harris denied neither she nor her husband have any connection to the address.
"I believe when you look at the record you will see that their father is the primary guardian and he takes care of them, and that is our position; it's always been our position," she said.
Martin-Harris added her children had previously attended school in Mobile County, but said one of the reasons she withdrew them was because of her public profile in the county, claiming the children had suffered stress.
She reiterated her husband established residence at the Daphne home in order for the children to change school districts.
"The stress is back on my children and the most important thing the press needs to understand and the citizens need to understand, this is not a question of residency for my children, this is the question of the residency of Councilwoman Earline Martin-Harris and Councilwoman Earline Martin-Harris resides in District 2 in the City of Prichard and that's where the focus needs to be and not on my children."
As of the publishing of this story, Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich has not commented on whether Martin-Harris' residence is a legal issue.