Judge rules city ordinance invalid
After a month of legal wrestling and controversy, a judge ruled in favor of Leavenworth County, ordering the city of Basehor to conduct a primary election, which the city conducted Tuesday.
Leavenworth County District Judge David King ruled last Friday that a section regarding primary elections of city officials in a Basehor municipal ordinance was invalid.
King cited several reasons in favor of the city, but his decision ultimately came down to the language of the ordinance.
The judge said the ordinance passed in 1972 would have been valid as a whole, but was technically wrong under Kansas law.
"The ordinance failed in that it did not specifically designate, in the caption of the ordinance, the Kansas statute it was exempting itself from," Thompson said.
According to Thompson, whenever a city exercises home rule authority, it must follow strict guidelines.
"What the judge basically said is the procedure that is outlined in the statute to exempt out utilizing home rule authority has got to be followed to the T," Thompson said. "If it is not, then the ordinance is not going to be valid. The judge was well within his realm of jurisdiction in doing that."
The ordinance in question exempted the city from sections of the Kansas State Constitution and provided alternate revisions relating to the election of mayor. Section five of the ordinance states that there shall be no primary elections in Basehor.
One of the arguments presented by Leavenworth County Counselor David Van Parys was that Basehor conducted primaries in 1979 and 1982 and that Basehor was not aware of its own ordinances, Van Parys said.
The Basehor ordinance also alters the terms of elected officials from two years to four years.
Thompson said that Leavenworth County officials would respect the agreement of the ordinance regarding the terms of mayor and City Council and would not seek any further action.