By Paige Nash
Bienville Parish Sheriff hopefuls Brian Taylor of Castor and Tony Thompson also of Castor were disqualified from running in the upcoming October 14 election.
A hearing was held Monday morning, August 21, at the Bienville Parish Courthouse where both candidates were present and respresenting themselves against the plaintiffs, Wesley Boddie and Sherri Ballance. After a subpeano of public records from the Louisiana Department of Revenue revealed that both men had not paid state income taxes in the prior five years of 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 – a requirement for anyone seeking this office.
Sherri Ballance was called to the stand as a witness and stated, “I believe if you are going to be the ex -officio tax collector of the parish then you need to be held to a higher standard – to not even file your taxes. I think they need to be paid in a timely matter. I think your debts need to be paid. I think if that’s the rule then we need to follow the rule. Now if they do away with the rule then anyone can run.”
Both Taylor and Thompson went to the Bienville Parish Clerk of Court’s Office to fill out a qualifying form. In the paper work that was signed and witnessed by both candidates, it acknowledged that the person seeking office had paid their state income taxes for the last five years.
Taylor stated that he did not understand the form to its fullest extent, but still signed it anyway. He also explained that through his own research online, he was under the impression that the taxes had to be filed before he took over the office if he were to win, not that they had to be filed before he qualified.
“I was under the understanding you had until the time you took office to have those completed. In the meantime, our personal taxes are completed with Brandy Tax Service all the way through the year 2022,” said Taylor. “She is waiting on our corporate returns to be filed.”
Taylor explained that in 2018, on a job in West Texas, they had a camper trailer stolen that contained laptops and personal records and that is the reason they had not filed. Allegedly the trailer was recovered eventually in May of this year and that is when they began the process of getting caught back up.
He said, “If I was told about this or explained it from the Clerk of Court’s office, I would not have signed the form.”
Thompson did not deny signing the form either, but told the courthouse that he was undertaking years worth of tax problems since 2016 that began with a form that was accidentally filled out incorrectly. This resulted in the “process of his downfall.”
Thompson questioned multiple times how this information regarding their state income taxes were brought to the attention of the plaintiffs.
“I’m still trying to figure out who requested this procedure. Does this happen to every candidate? I mean if it happened to me, does it happen to other candidates? Is this a normal occurrence?,” asked Thompson.
Following Thompson’s testimony, Bienville Parish District Judge Rick Warren, addressed his questions.
He said, “Anytime you file a notice of candidacy to run for office, you are required to sign this notice of candidacy and it has certain qualifications that you have to meet in order to be a dually qualified candidate for the office. Any voter within the district can contest your qualifications and that was what was done in this case,” said Warren. “Mr. Boddie and Mrs. Ballance, as voters of this parish and this particular election for sheriff, they are able to contest your qualifications and that is what they have done. Whether or not you feel like you were singled out, well absolutely you were singled out because you were a candidate.”
After hearing the proceedings, Warren made the final decision to disqualify them both and noted he did not have the authority to grant an extension for them to get their income taxes paid.
“The question is you either did or you didn’t and in this case you testified that you didn’t. I have no choice but to disqualify you as a candidate for sheriff. I have no other option. I do not have the option to give you anymore time to file your taxes. That is not an option that is afforded to me,” said Warren.
Taylor currently has felony criminal charges pending in Bienville Parish following an incident that occured this past May when two agents attempted to repossess a vehicle from their property. Allegedly, Taylor, his wife and father in law interfered which resulted in their arrests. Those charges were not a determining factor in this case.
Thompson is a retired Shreveport police officer and has owned Saline Quick Stop since January of 2006.
With those two candidates disqualified, the only remaining candidate to take on the incumbent Sheriff John Ballance, who has served over 23 years in this office, will be Henry Ford. Ford is a retired Army veteran and sheriff’s deputy. He also served with the state police department for 25 years before retiring.
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