John Fritz Withdraws From Race for Sedalia Mayor
The race for Sedalia's Mayor has lost one candidate after it was discovered that candidate John Fritz had not paid his personal property tax in time to certify his candidacy.
Fritz was forced to withdraw from the race as a result of Missouri Revised Statute 115.346, which says:
RSMo, 115.346 - Notwithstanding any other provisions of law to the contrary, no person shall be certified as a candidate for a municipal office, nor shall such person's name appear on the ballot as a candidate for such office, who shall be in arrears for any unpaid city taxes or municipal user fees on the last day to file a declaration of candidacy for the office.
According to a statement by Fritz, he had paid the municipal taxes of $17.10 after it was discovered he had not paid his personal property taxes in 2012 or 2013 by Jan. 21, but did pay all property taxes due on Monday, January 27. The City Clerk of Sedalia, Arlene Silvery, informed Fritz that his candidacy for Mayor could not be certified, since the payment came after the filing deadline.
"The City Clerk’s Office provided me a copy of this law and I acknowledged receipt of this requirement at the time I filed my candidacy for Mayor on Dec. 20, 2013," Fritz said. "The law is quite clear and I am the only one to blame for this error and I’m embarrassed by my ignorance. The only explanation I will offer is since the State of Missouri has allowed for three year licensing of motor vehicles I’ve acquired a selfish habit of getting around to paying my property taxes just prior to the license renewal for my vehicle. I realize this demonstrates very poor judgment and I admit this choice of behavior does not align with the character that the people of Sedalia deserve in a candidate for Mayor."
Fritz was not the only candidate in Pettis County who failed to certify their candidacy by not paying taxes in time for the April elections. John Comfort was running for La Monte Alderman Ward one was not certified by the La Monte clerk. However, according to Pettis County Clerk Nick LaStrada, Comfort showed up to the Pettis County Courthouse, paid his taxes and registered as an official write-in candidate. Candidates have until March 28 to file as a write-in candidate, according to LaStrada. UPDATE: 5:06 PM Upon further review Comfort does not meet the credentials to be a write-in candidate due to statute 115.353 which says,
"prior to 5:00 p.m. on the second Friday immediately preceding the election day. No person who filed as a party or independent candidate for nomination or election to an office may, without withdrawing as provided by law, file as a write-in candidate for election to the same office for the same term. No candidate who files for nomination to an office and is not nominated at a primary election may file a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate for the same office at the general election. When declarations are properly filed with the secretary of state, the secretary of state shall promptly transmit copies of all such declarations to the proper election authorities for further action pursuant to this section. The election authority shall furnish a list to the election judges and counting teams prior to election day of all write-in candidates who have filed such declaration. This subdivision shall not apply to elections wherein candidates are being elected to an office for which no candidate has filed.
No person shall file a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate for election to any municipal office unless such person is qualified to be certified as a candidate under section 115.346;
Fritz said that he considered to run as a write in candidate, but is not going to seek that route at this time. " I‘m very disappointed by this blunder and I fully accept the consequences of my poor and unacceptable judgment," Fritz said. "I wish to extend an apology to everyone this has affected. To the people of Sedalia, my family and friends and those that have supported me in my campaign – I’m deeply sorry for my error."
The Sedalia Mayor race is now between current 1st ward councilman Steve Galliher and former Sedalia Mayor Allen Hawkins. The 2014 municipal elections will be held on Tuesday, April 8.