Basehor to have primary election in mayoral race
Although Basehor passed an ordinance abolishing primary elections in 1972, officials have never had to use the ordinance because of the lack of local candidates each election.
It appeared this year the city would exercise the old municipal law for the first time in the mayoral race, but the ordinance will have to remain on the shelf.
On Tuesday, Leavenworth County officials said Basehor would have to conduct a primary election for those races with multiple candidates.
The uncertainty of the primary centered on how state officials interpreted the ordinance and if it conflicted with current state law.
The ordinance passed by the Basehor City Council exempts the city from sections of the Kansas State Constitution and provides alternate provisions relating to the election of mayor and council members.
Following the candidate filing deadline Jan. 23, Basehor City Attorney John Thompson was asked to submit a legal opinion to the city council and the Leavenworth County Clerk as to whether the city of Basehor could exercise home rule authority. That authority would allow the city to opt out of state statutory requirements regarding elections.
According to Thompson's opinion, the cities of Kansas have had home rule authority since 1961. Under the Home Rule Amendment, cities have the power to determine its own local affairs and government, and can exercise that power by passing an ordinance.
However, Leavenworth County Counselor David Van Parys disagreed with Thompson's opinion.
After reading the opinion, Van Parys advised the county clerk's office to conduct a primary in Basehor for all city officers on Feb. 27.
"Based on Kansas Statute 25-2108a, the state of Kansas requires a primary election for all city officers. I have advised the county clerk to conduct a primary election for the city of Basehor," Parys said.
City Clerk Mary Mogle said that until this year there has never been a need for a primary.
"It has never been an issue until this year," she said. "This year, we have more candidates than in the past."
If there are more than two candidates for a city office position, a primary election is conducted five weeks before the general election, according to state law.
The general election is April 3 this year.
There are four candidates for the mayor's office, so the race will require a primary. Basehor residents Bill Hooker, Dennis Nichols and Randy Cunningham are running against incumbent John Pfannenstiel.
There are only three candidates for the two open city council seats, so the race will not require a primary. Candidate Joseph Scherer will try to unseat one of the two current council members Victor Ziegler and Julian Espinoza.