Alabama town re-elects dead woman as mayor

Published: Aug. 30, 2012 at 2:32 AM CDT|Updated: Nov. 22, 2012 at 3:32 AM CST
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A real political quandary is developing in the small Alabama town of Jackson's Gap where voters decided to re-elect its mayor to office. The problems: She died two weeks ago.

Janice Canham passed away on July 30th, but was re-elected mayor of the Tallapoosa County town Tuesday night.

"It's never happened. She really campaigned really hard, you know, before election and up until she passed away," Jacksons' Gap Town Clerk Kathleen Thomas explained.

The town clerk says a dead woman being elected to office is the first in the town's history. Canham earned 128 votes while her opponent, Michael Crouch, received just 66.

Canham's death came in the middle of a pending lawsuit against the city brought on by her opponent.

"It's just been a nasty campaign to me," Jacksons' Gap resident Ginger Carlisle said, adding that Canham was the better candidate.

"It could have been some that were voting against Mr. Crouch because there was a lot of negative things," Calisle admitted.

Newly-elected council member Janice Glaze says it was sentimental electing Canham as mayor. "People love to leave a legacy and I knew it was her hope and desire to be mayor and to move Jacksons' Gap forward."

Even Canham's niece, Terri Anne McGreight weighed in on the election. "It was her final wish."

McCgreight says her aunt loved the town and had a vision for progress. Some residents say they knew if Canham was voted in, the council would simply appoint someone else.

"She was trying to get more people to come into the town, MGreight explained, adding that her aunt passed away from complications after surgery.

So how could a person who is dead be on a ballot in the first place? Thomas said she was alive when the ballot was prepared, and it's legal and was verified with state election officials.

The mayor-elect would have turned 62 on August 19. Her niece says it was a shock to residents, but the family knew of pre-existing conditions that led to her death.

Currently, Deputy Mayor Jeff Walker is serving as mayor. The council has 60 days from the date of the November 5th election to appoint a new mayor. There's no word on who that might be.

WSFA 12 News was unsuccessfull in attempting to reach Mr. Crouch for reaction.

Copyright 2012  WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.