Linwood city election anyone’s guess
Candidate’s eligibility called into question
During a vote canvass Friday, Leavenworth County officials will attempt to settle questions surrounding the Linwood mayor's race.
Write-in candidate Steve Campbell, a 1994 graduate of Basehor-Linwood High School and owner of Fro's Hideout, a local watering hole, received 34 votes during Tuesday's general election. His opponent, Linwood City Council member Georgianna Smith, received 32 votes.
But, the race is far from resolved. County officials must still canvass the votes and, with only two votes separating Campbell and Smith, even a mild adjustment in the totals could swing the balance.
Also, Leavenworth County Clerk Linda Scheer said she and Leavenworth County counselor David Van Parys must determine whether Campbell's residency status qualifies him, under state statutes, to be the town's mayor.
"We're just going to wait and talk about it at the canvass," Scheer said.
The question of Campbell's ascent to the mayor's office arose Wednesday morning when a town resident asked Linwood city clerk Robin Hilt if Campbell had lived in Linwood long enough to be eligible.
The resident believed mayoral candidates must have lived in the city for at least one year, Hilt said.
Hilt then called Scheer and now the question will be decided Friday.
"We don't know what's going on," Hilt said. "Unofficially, he is the mayor until Friday. Then we don't know what will happen."
Scheer said she doubts that there is an existing statute that requires Campbell to have lived in the city for a specified time period before running for office. Scheer said she was only aware of one qualification for running for office -- that the candidate be a registered voter in their municipality.
According to Kansas statute 15-209, which covers election, appointment and removal of officers in third class cities, "the officers elected or appointed under this act shall be qualified electors of said city."
It makes no mention of candidates being required to live in the city for a specific time frame before running for office.
Running under the campaign slogan, "Vision, Integrity and Progress" Campbell pledged "As mayor, I will strive to improve the community and help it grow in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century."
Campbell released a statement to The Sentinel Wednesday.
"First off, I would like to thank the people of Linwood for their votes and support," he wrote. "The people have spoken by saying, 'Campbell for Mayor.'
"The election committee and the county commissioners will handle questions about the validity of the election and its results. I am confident that democracy will prevail and that the private agenda of a few people will not be forced upon the voting public. I am prepared to respond to any challenges and I look forward to serving the citizens of Linwood as their mayor. I have no further comment at this time."
Smith could not be reached for comment as of press time Wednesday.