Mayor pondering clerk election
Now that Tonganoxie voters have spoken on the issue of whether the city clerk should be required to live in Leavenworth County, the city council has a decision to make.
In a special election last week, voters rejected a charter ordinance that would have allowed the city clerk to live in Leavenworth County and surrounding counties. Current regulations require the clerk to live in Leavenworth County.
Mayor John Franiuk said he's not certain what his recommendation to the council will be. Kathy Bard, who the city hired as city clerk, lives in De Soto, which is in Johnson County. The city adopted the ordinance, in hopes of allowing the clerk to live in a nearby county. But 60 percent of the 281 people voting last week rejected that idea.
"My advice to council probably will be to let it be," Franiuk said. "We've got a whole year to decide what to do next."
Bard's title now is acting city clerk. About two weeks ago, Franiuk renewed Bard's appointment to that post for a year.
But he said, "I don't believe it's proper to continue that way indefinitely. It could mean that she has to move to our community. The people who voted want that person to be a Leavenworth County resident."
It's likely Franiuk will ask the council to address the issue at its June 11 meeting.
To Jean Lenahan, a downtown business owner, who submitted the petition forcing the vote on the clerk's residency, the path council members should take is clear.
"I think they ought to follow the statute and the ordinance, but I don't think they will," she said. "A lot of people are of the same opinion. If you don't meet the residency requirement, there's a vacancy in the office," she said. "My question is, and always has been, how valid are the documents she (Bard) has been signing?"
Bard said her signature on documents merely has served to attest the mayor's signature.
"All an attestation is, is verifying a signature," she said. "A notary public can do that, which I am."
Lenahan said some residents are dissatisfied with city government, and she believes election results reflect that.
"There's a great dissatisfaction about a lot of things and the way our tax money is being spent at city hall," she said.
Bard said she's uncertain what to do. She has been offered a job with the city of De Soto, a proposition she's considering. But she would have a difficult time leaving Tonganoxie city government. She said she's looking for property in Leavenworth County.
"But it's not that simple," she said. "I can't just run across the river and buy a house. I have to sell mine and find one I can afford."