Louisiana should not be concerned that an ordinance could be construed to prohibit city employees from running for office because it conflicts with state statutes, according to a Secretary of State office spokesman.
City officials became worried in January after the candidate filing period closed for the April 2 municipal election. A debate has ensued on whether city employee James Minor might have to choose between the city council or his job with the street department if he beats Bart Niedner in the Ward 3 race.
It was feared that an old ordinance prohibiting fire and police personnel from mingling duties could be construed to conflict with a state law that city officials said prohibits city workers from running for municipal office.
The concern may have been misplaced, according to Kevin Flannery, deputy director of communications with the Missouri Secretary of State. His office guides elections in the state.
“There are no relevant (state) statutes in the sense of municipal empowerment and elections,” Flannery said. “That’s governed by city ordinances and personnel policy. That’s not anything we would be involved with.”
There is a law that prohibits government employees from holding partisan offices but municipal elections are not considered partisan.
Former city council member Robbyn Morris was told by City Attorney Robert Rapp at the Feb. 4 council meeting that he would explain the state law at the Feb. 11 meeting. But Rapp didn’t after Board of Adjustment Chairman Porter Elliott advised the council on Feb. 11 that Rapp shouldn’t do legal research for private individuals.
The council is expected to vote at the Monday, March 11 meeting to amend the original ordinance and remove any possible conflicts.
Minor and Niedner are running for the council seat from which Morris was impeached on Nov. 20, 2012. She was impeached for taping a closed session of the council, a violation of the state’s open meetings and records Sunshine Law.
Also at the Feb. 11 meeting, City Councilman Chuck Hoffman said Ward 3 constituents asked him to ask the council to reinstate Morris. The council listened to the request, but took no action.