Felon tests law ban­ning can­di­dacy

The Dallas Morning News - - Obituaries -

A crim­i­nal jus­tice ac­tivist with a past be­hind bars is the first can­di­date to jump into the race against Austin City Coun­cil Mem­ber Ora Hous­ton.

He doesn’t know if he’s el­i­gi­ble. But he may be the first in Texas to chal­lenge a state pro­vi­sion block­ing felons from pub­lic of­fice.

Lewis Con­way Jr., a Grass­roots Lead­er­ship or­ga­nizer, launches his cam­paign Tues­day with a party and fundraiser at Mid­town Live Sports Cafe. Con­way has a 1992 man­slaugh­ter con­vic­tion for stab­bing an ac­quain­tance to death dur­ing a fight over stolen money. He served eight years in prison and 12 on pa­role. Af­ter com­plet­ing pa­role, his vot­ing rights were re­stored in 2013.

Con­way fig­ures that should al­low him to run for City Coun­cil. State law says a felon can­not hold Texas pub­lic of­fice un­less he has been “re­leased from the re­sult­ing dis­abil­i­ties.”

But com­plet­ing pa­role doesn’t count, the city and Sec­re­tary of State’s Of­fice say. To run for of­fice, a felon such as Con­way would need a par­don or a court dec­la­ra­tion say­ing they’ve been re­leased from their dis­abil­i­ties.

What does that mean? No one knows.

Soon, Con­way will head to court with a mo­tion for a restora­tion of his rights. If de­nied, he will ap­peal and file his can­di­dacy.

For Con­way, this fight is just an ex­ten­sion of what he’s fought for since his re­lease.

“It’s ‘When does the sen­tence end?” he said.

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