UPDATE, 8/18/23, 11:57 A.M.: Following a court ruling Friday morning, Jessie Bellard has been officially declared the unopposed candidate in the upcoming St. Landry Parish President race.

ST. LANDRY PARISH, La. (KLFY) — St. Landry Parish president has filed a motion to disqualify an opponent in the upcoming election.

With election quickly approaching in St. Landry Parish, parish president Jessie Bellard says he’s filed a motion to have his opponent Richard Lewis disqualified from the race.

“He’s not qualified because he did not file his taxes in 2021 or 22. Part of the rules and regulations when you sign to run, you attest that you did your taxes and you’re up to date on all your taxes. And he’s not,” said Bellard.

With the motion being filed this morning, Bellard says the next steps will lead to the supreme court after a judge has been assigned.

Bellard’s opponent, Richard Lewis says the claims are not accurate and there is no evidence to justify a disqualification.

“My taxes are current; my taxes have been filed. It’s just another way to stop my campaign. Mr. Bellard never did want me in this race, I’m going to expose everything I know that’s being done wrong,” said Lewis.

Lewis was an employee of St. Landry Parish Government, working in code enforcement in 2021 and 2022, both years Bellard claims he didn’t file taxes.

Bellard says the lack of up-to-date taxes and lack of experience led him to file the motion and avoid running against an opponent that should not be in the qualified.

“If I have a candidate that’s somebody that’s going to be doing it for the right reasons, I wouldn’t do this kind of stuff. It’s obvious that this guy is not qualified to run for this position. He worked over here so I know what hes capable of doing or not capable of doing. That’s his record, and I’m not just going to sit here and let somebody do that. It’s not right for the people of this parish. I have better things to do with my time than run against somebody who’s not qualified,” said Bellard.

Lewis had disagreed with his opponents claim of not being qualified.

“I’m more than qualified. I know how to take care of people, and that’s what the people of St. Landry parish want. Do the job and take care of business. And that’s what he’s mad about,” said Lewis.

Lewis says he’s prepared to hire an attorney when the case is taken to court.

If Lewis is disqualified from the race, this means Bellard will run unopposed.