Columbia mayoral candidate Irwin Wilson will not be on the April 6 ballot after a decision by the Municipal Election Commission.
The commission held an emergency meeting Friday morning to decide whether Wilson, who is a convicted felon, is eligible to hold elected office. A 1997 change in the state constitution bars persons from public office if 15 years has not passed since the time he or she completed their sentence.
Wilson was convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in 1994 and he spent three years in prison. Wilson completed his sentence 13 years ago.
"The law was passed well after I was within my term, so because of that, that shouldn't have applied to me because it was applied after I was within my term," Wilson says.
Chris Whitmire with the South Carolina Elections Commission, isn't speaking specifically about Wilson's case, but says there's no gray area with the law.
"After 15 years since the completion of the sentence, that allows you to file for office and to appear on the ballot and be elected to office," said Whitmire.
Wilson adds that he has not received official word from the Municipal Election Commission indicating he is disqualified to run for mayor.
According to city of Columbia spokeswoman Leisha Utsey, the commission voted unanimously to disqualify Wilson.
The commission also ruled Antonio Williams eligible to challenge Tameika Isaac Devine for the at-large seat on Richland County Council. Williams was convicted of grand larceny and burglary in 1990. Commissioners concluded unanimously Williams is eligible to run because 17 years has passed since he was released from prison.
Neither Wilson or Williams attended the hearing.