Wicker speaks exclusively to WAFB after La. Supreme Court rules she cannot run for mayor

Wicker speaks exclusively to WAFB after La. Supreme Court rules she cannot run for mayor

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Louisiana Supreme Court has denied an appeal for Tara Wicker, according to attorneys involved in the case.

“Just very hurtful, very disappointing,” said Wicker, in an exclusive interview with WAFB.

The decision means that Wicker will not be allowed to run for Mayor in November.

“We were hoping and anticipating that the supreme court would at least hear the case and give us an opportunity to express what had happened. And it was the hope that they would have upheld the original ruling from Judge Kelly’s court that we had done everything necessary,” said Wicker.

The ordeal began when three East Baton Rouge Parish residents filed suit, claiming Wicker failed to file the required five prior years of state income taxes before she qualified to run for mayor in July.

They produced a response from the Louisiana Department of Revenue, claiming that agency had no record of tax filings from Wicker for the years 2016 and 2018.

Wicker maintains she did file all five years of her returns prior to qualifying as a candidate.

“When we went in on the day of that Monday when we were filing and I was served the papers, I asked what’s going on with my taxes. And they told me they looked for my 2018 taxes and said yeah you’re 2018 taxes are here. And so it’s mind-boggling to me that it happened, why it happened,” said Wicker.

District Court Judge Tim Kelley heard the initial lawsuit and ruled in favor of Wicker, allowing her to remain on the November ballot.

The First Circuit Court of Appeal reversed Kelley’s ruling in a 3-2 decision the week of Aug. 10. That court’s decision disqualified Wicker from running.

Wicker says she believes this is all just political.

“You know I’ve been in politics now for over 20 years, this is the first time that I have ever seen anything to this kind of magnitude, and individuals stooping to this kind of level, to get someone out of the race,” said Wicker.

“All election challenges are political so anybody who says it’s not is basically lying,” said Stephanie Riegel, editor of the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report.

There were countless lawsuits just this year for other candidates as well. Riegel says because of the pandemic, she wouldn’t rule out anything regarding this upcoming election moving forward.

“You know the traditional political wisdom that we use to predict outcomes of elections like these, is out the window. I think some of those people that aren’t going to stick with Broome might have been looking at Wicker, and she might’ve been an attractive candidate for them. So with her out of the race, I think (Steve) Carter is the next logical candidate that they’re going to look to,” said Riegel.

“At the end of the day I’m a believer and no matter what the outcomes are, that God is still in control,” said Wicker.

7 candidates are left vying for the top spot in East Baton Rouge Parish.

The Tara Wicker for Mayor-President campaign released the following statement regarding the decision rendered by the Louisiana Supreme Court:

“The Tara Wicker for Mayor-President campaign is disappointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court’s decision not to hear our case; however, the campaign respects the decision and the justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court. We are at peace regarding the decision. No matter the outcome, God is still in control. Ultimately, this campaign was not about one person but about uniting and improving our parish. Tara, her family, and the campaign team will be meeting over the next few days to discuss our next steps. We want to thank the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish for their prayers and overwhelming support during this difficult time.”

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