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Gunless constable says he did nothing wrong

Marvin K. “Pete” Ferguson, a Washington County constable who earlier this month was deemed ineligble for re-election, said he has always told everyone he is a “gunless constable.”
Convicted of a felony in the 1970s, Ferguson is not allowed to carry a gun. As it turns out, his felon status also prevents him from holding the office of constable.
That fact, however, eluded the Washington County Election Office in 2010 when Ferguson’s name was allowed on the ballot despite his past.
“I brought in the felony charge with my restoration (of citizenship) papers, and they didn’t say a thing about it,” Ferguson told the Herald & Tribune during a chance meeting last week in the Election Office.
A copy of the Affidavit for Election to the Office of Constable, provided by Administrator Maybell Stewart, shows Ferguson’s signature affirming he possesses the qualifications required to be a constable. It includes a line that reads, “I have not been convicted in any federal or state court of a felony.”
The affidavit, dated Sept. 7, 2010, is also signed by Stewart.
Stewart, who was not serving as the administrator at that time, says her signature only indicates she accepted the petition.
“Just let them know you dealt with Connie,” Stewart told Ferguson, referring to former administrator Connie Sinks.
“I could not tell you who I talked to,” Ferguson said to the Herald & Tribune afterward. “It was two years ago.”
Stewart said she did not, at that time, know the law prohibiting those convicted of a felony from running for constable, and she was not responsible.
Election Commission staff member Rebecca Vines agreed. “The law is kept from us, we were not taught anything,” she said.
Ferguson thinks he was misled by the order from Judge Lynn Brown restoring his citizenship rights, which states he is allowed to run for public office but does not include the exception of constable. “If it had been on there, I wouldn’t have run,” he said.
On Sept. 19, 1977, Ferguson was convicted on two counts of intercepting a wire communication and disclosing the contents.
“I didn’t know it was illegal to put a tape recorder on your own phone,” Ferguson said, which he did in an attempt to confirm whether his (ex-)wife was involved in an affair.
“It was my own phone in my own house,” he said. “Instead of getting a felony, they should have given me a silver star for cleaning up the corruption (going on during that time) at Crockett High School.”
Ferguson said he has been a very well-respected person in the community, and he has no idea what action might be taken by District Attorney General Tony Clark.
“I’m sure General Clark will do whatever he thinks should be done, and that is 100 percent okay with me,” he said. “If they want my credentials and want me to resign, I’m ready to do so at any time.”