Advance cancels special election after discovering it's not legal

Thursday, October 8, 2009

ADVANCE, Mo. -- A call from the Missouri Municipal League to the city of Advance has put a stop to the Nov. 3 special election for mayor after the league told the city a special election wouldn't be legal.

"I take full responsibility for the mistake," said Advance city attorney Don Rhodes. "I learned in law school that you should never assume you know what the statute says, because it could have been amended. I should have checked it."

The Missouri law in question says that if an office is vacated, the board of aldermen is to appoint a successor, who will serve until the next regular municipal election, which is always in April. According to Rhodes, the law was amended 15 to 20 years ago.

"We haven't had this situation arise in the last 20 years, so I hadn't seen that the statute had been changed," Rhodes said. County Clerk Don White was relying on the advice of the city attorney, so he had not noticed the change, either.

"I apologize for this mistake," said Rhodes, who returned all the candidates' filling fees of $1. "I hope you'll all file again in the spring."

The way things stand now, Mayor Pro Tem Leeman Shirrell will serve until Nov. 3, which is when Mayor James Harnes' resignation takes effect. Then the aldermen will have to appoint someone to act as mayor until the April 6 election. If the city board chooses an alderman as acting mayor, he will have to resign his alderman seat and the board will have to appoint another aldermen to take over his position until April 6.

If the board chooses someone else to be mayor until the election, Shirrell will finish out his term as alderman until that term is up in April 2011.

Candidate Tom Schmidt asked Rhodes who would reimburse him for the money he spent on signs and business cards. Rhodes suggested that the signs and cards, which had no date on them, could be used again before the April election, but Schmidt said he was unsure whether he would run again. Rhodes agreed to pay him back the money out of his own pocket. Schmidt gave Rhodes his receipts.

None of the other candidates has asked to be reimbursed for the cost of running for mayor.

Pertinent address:

308 W. Gabriel Ave., Advance, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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