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Do we have a Mayor? Definitive answer likely early this morning

For now, there are many questions on everyone's minds following Judge Judy Vance's ruling (See: Judge Vance voids mayor election; orders Clerk to hold new one) Confirmation of the opinions reported from Frankfort - from the Kentucky Attorney General's office - that a new Mayor will have to be named, should come in hours. And we hope to have opinions from the City and County Attorneys, and the Secretary of State's office. ALSO: Is now the time to complete City/County merger? Many agencies are already joint ones or, as in the case of water/sewer, already merged. AND: If Mr. Hardwick is no longer Mayor, is Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Ron Rogers automatically in charge?
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By Ed Waggener

Columbians are waking up this morning not yet knowing for sure whether they have a Mayor.

A definitive answer will likely come in the next 4-5 hours.

From what we have been able to learn, the answer is that since Judge Vance's ruling voiding the November 4, 2015, election, Mayor Hardwick is, at least for the time being, out of office

Information still being checked out is that his replacement would be named by the Columbia City Council, not the Governor, and that the council has 30 days from the date of the ruling to make a decision. CM is expecting a copy of statutes from the Kentucky Attorney General's office soon, and will post information from the Attorney General's office as soon as possible.

The date for a new election not yet been officially known. County Clerk Lisa Greer said on Saturday that she expects to know more about how to proceed after consulting with the State Board of Elections.

For now, there are many more questions than answers. Among them:
  • Who can run for the office? Just any of the three candidates already filed? Just Curtis Hardwick, Ben Arnold, and/or June Parsons. Or can new candidates run for the offfice?

  • When will the election be held? Earliest indications are that the race will be a Special Election to coincide with the November 4, 2015 election, but official word is awaited.

  • If it is determined that Mr. Hardwick is no longer Mayor, will actions taken during his tenure stand? The early thinking is that they will, but many are asking.

  • Whether the council should act immediately, or use the full 30 days to get public opinion before naming a the Mayor to hold office until the election?

  • Should the new, temporary Mayor be one of those who ran in the November 4, 2014 general election? Should the temporary Mayor be a member of the City Council? or should the new temporary mayor be a totally new face, as the council chose the last time their was a vacancy, when then Mayor Curtis Hardwick resigned to take a position in the Fletcher Administration and Pat Bell was named to fill out his term?

  • Could/can the city continue to function by simply allowing Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Ronald Rogers to conduct city business?

  • What will happen on Mayor Hardwick's executive decision to void the lease agreement with the Adair County Fire Department?

  • How soon can accurate city boundaries be determined and how soon can accurate lists of eligible voters be obtained?

  • What happens should any of the defendants appeal Judge Vance's opinion? Would that stay the vacancy now apparently happening?

  • And, finally, the seemingly eternal question: Is now the time to talk about city/county merger and or the Ferguson solution or the McCreary County way? Columbia simply taking itself out of business, leaving the county no option but to take over?
There are more questions, these are just a few heard on the street.

Citizen comments, meeting the magazine's standard of civil discourse are welcome on the issues, but not on the personalities. - EW

This story was posted on 2015-04-20 05:16:59
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