Well Known Montgomery Politician Files Suit Against County Over Election Laws

It seems like such a simple question.

When does someone officially start running for office?

And if they're a government employee, should they have to take unpaid time off to campaign?

It's not just a theoretical question, because one of one of Montgomery's better known political figures is suing the county on those very issues.

"I've been there officially 30 years," said the veteran politico.

You won't see any signs yet for Tommie Miller, but he's definitely running for office.

"I plan to run for the elected position in November, hopefully get elected," he said.

Miller is probably best known for his work on the local school board, where among other things, he helped negotiate the end of superintendent Carlinda Purcell's tenure.

But now, Miller is politicking for a new job - as county revenue commissioner.

The problem is, Miller already works for the county as tax appraiser, and the administrator says if he's running for office, he'll have to take unpaid leave while the campaign is going on.

Even Miller's attorney admits that's how the state law reads.

"One statue says if you're running for office and you're an employee of the city or county, and you're running for an office in that city our county, you have to take a leave of absence," said attorney James Anderson.

"But it also says if there's no one else on the ballot, you don't have to," he said.

That sets up the conflict in Miller's case.

He qualified with the Democratic party to run for the job in April, but because no one else filed for the job, he didn't have to go through the primary.

"I'm not on the ballot and I won't be on the ballot until November," said Miller.

So, the question now becomes, when is he officially running for office?

In Miller's view, he isn't officially a candidate until after the Democrat certify him, and that means he shouldn't have to take vacation time now to talk about an election in November.

A local judge granted Miller a temporary restraining order last week which allows him to go back to work until the legalities are settled.

The court will make a final decision Thursday afternoon.