Much Ado About Nothing? That may be the case in a northern Missouri House race where some are questioning if one man’s candiancy will cost him his job.
At issue in the special election for House District 39 — which covers portions of Ray, Carroll and Chariton counties — is an ordinance in the Town of Carrollton that prohibits officers and town employees from running for public office without first resigning their employment or be terminated upon filing for public office.
Ethan Perkinson, a Democrat, is running for the seat left open when Joe Don McGaugh accepted a judicial appointment as Associate Circuit Judge for Carroll County. He currently works as a police sergeant in Carrollton.
According to Section 105.070, “No appointive salaried officer or employee of the Town shall continue in his/her position after becoming a candidate for nomination or election to any public office.”
The ordinance, titled “Appointed Officer or Employee to Resign Upon Becoming A Candidate,” also prohibits an salaried officer from soliciting any monetary contributions for any candidate for office nor make make any monetary contribution to any political campaign.
“I have no plans to resign,” Perkinson told The Missouri Times, “as there is a State Statute that trumps the ordinance and allows me to run.”
The Missouri law that Perkinson is referring to is titled “First responders, political activity while off duty and not in uniform, political subdivisions not to prohibit — first responders defined.”
State law 67.145 states “No political subdivision of this state shall prohibit any first responder from engaging in any political activity while off duty and not in uniform, being a candidate for elected or appointed public office, or holding such office unless such political activity or candidacy is otherwise prohibited by state or federal law.”
A police officer is specifically defined as a “first responder” in the statute.
So the question is, which statute take precedence?
The Carrollton ordinance was originally adopted in 1961 and then re-adopted in 2002.
“[The state law] was enacted into law in 2013, thus making the city ordinance, as it pertains to me and my campaign, unlawful,” Perkinson wrote in a Facebook post. “Section 105.070 of the Town of Carrollton Code of Ordinances, can still lawfully prohibit a non-first responder (Street Department employee, waste water employee, city hall clerks, etc) from running for public office, but not a police officer, firefighter, EMT, etc.
“The town of Carrollton has furthermore consulted with it’s attorney, who has confirmed this information,” Perkinson relayed.
Perkinson filed for election on Nov. 21 and is running as a “blue collar, worker like most of the fine citizens of Ray, Carroll and Chariton counties.”
The special election is scheduled for Feb. 6 where Perkinson will face-off against Republican candidate Peggy McGaugh, Carroll County Clerk.
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at firstname.lastname@example.org.