CUNEY — Two lawsuits involving the city of Cuney were dismissed at the Second District Court on Tuesday afternoon, according to Cuney City Attorney Eldridge Moak.

Resident Grace Beal filed a suit to recall the city council election held in May 2005. Beal, who was defeated in the election by then-alderman Jessie Johnson, claimed that the election was not done properly, Moak said.

“The visiting judge from Lamar County ruled that the suit was without merit, and her suit would be dismissed,” Moak said. “The judge decided that there was insufficient evidence to require any change to the result of the election.”

In the election, both Beal and Johnson, who is now mayor, were vying for a city council seat.

“The votes were 19 for the other opponent and 16 for Beal,” Moak said.

Moak said Beal’s suit was filed shortly after the May election, and Beal did not have a lawyer represent her.

Witnesses in the district court case, which was a non-jury trial, included Ruby Williams, the hired election judge, and Vivian Johnson, the election clerk, according to City Secretary Brenda Lankford.

A visiting judge had to hear the case because it dealt with Cherokee County city officials and elections.

Beal could not be reached for comment before press time.

Immediately prior to Beal’s suit, a case was heard in the Second District Court with Judge Dwight Phifer presiding against the city of Cuney by liquor store owners Mao Chhay and Khien Thach, who alleged the city improperly gave a building permit to a competing liquor store.

In 2003, the other store owner, Kuang Phou, applied for a permit to build a liquor store in a part of Cuney that was not zoned for commercial property. The council rezoned the area,and granted the permit.

“The question in this case was, ‘did the city use the proper procedures to change the zoning ordinance in 2003?’” Moak said.

Moak said in 1985, there was a previous lawsuit in district court, and the court declared that the zoning ordinances were all invalid.

“Judge Phifer ruled that no zoning ordinances had ever been adopted after that,” Moak said, “so therefore, there are no city zoning ordinances in Cuney. There’s no zoning ordinance, and so you can build anything anywhere in the city of Cuney.”

Phifer dismissed that lawsuit.

Moak said witnesses for the case included Lankford and two former mayors, Billy Roberts, who was the mayor during the time period in question, and Oscar Birdow.

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