Great Bend City Councilman Brock McPherson will swap Fourth Ward council seats following his Nov. 5 general election write-in win, he told the Great Bend Tribune Friday. Although he maintains there are no state statutes that preclude him from holding both positions simultaneously, McPherson has chosen one seat.
As of Friday, Great Bend City Administrator Kendal Francis said he had not heard officially from McPherson regarding his intentions. But, he said this is the option city officials hoped he’d pick.
The conclusion of the on-going election drama had remained up in the air since November. It is up to McPherson to contact the city with his plans.
McPherson was elected in November 2018 to his current Ward 4 seat, meaning he is up for reelection in 2020. But, this second Ward 4 position is up for reelection 2021.
The council consists of eight members, with two representing each of the four wards and each serving two-year terms. Every year, one seat in each ward is up for election.
Also waging an unsuccessful bid for mayor, he was one of four candidates garnering write-in votes for the Ward 4 seat on Nov. 5, receiving five votes. The others were: Randy Myers, who fell short in his bid for mayor, four; Jared Chansler, four; and Angela Delgado-Sycz, three.
Since he raised the issue of serving in both positions for the overlapping terms, City Attorney Robert Suelter looked into the situation. But, McPherson said ultimately, three options were provided to him:
1. He may resign his current seat and accept the new position he was elected for in November 2019. As a result, the Governing Body would declare his previous position as vacant and would be tasked with filling the position for the remainder of the term.
2. He may decline to serve the new two-year term and decline to be sworn in as well. As a result, the Governing Body would declare the new position as vacant and would be tasked with filling the position for the remainder of the term.
3. He may decline to resign his current seat and be sworn into his new position he was elected for in November 2019, thus automatically resigning from the current position since a member cannot concurrently hold two seats. As a result, the Governing Body would declare his previous position as vacant and would be tasked with filling the position for the remainder of the term
However, “I have been unable to find any provision in the law directly stating that I cannot hold both Fourth Ward positions as a council member,” McPherson said. “The city attorney agrees there is no direct statutory provisions that one person cannot hold both positions.”
There is a Kansas Supreme Court decision involving an elected city clerk being elected to the position of clerk of the district court. The court found that the offices were not incompatible.
The Court stated: “Offices are incompatible when the performance of the duties of the one interferes in some way with the duties of the other and there is an inconsistency in the functions of the two offices.”
In the first case mentioned, the Kansas Supreme Court set out the test in that case where it states: “The only question requiring consideration is, whether the duties of the two offices are so incompatible that the acceptance of one vacates the other. It is conceded that there is neither constitutional nor statutory inhibition against one person holding both offices at the same time.”
“While I don’t agree with the city options, I will move forward with the third option because I feel it is the best solution to the problem, rather than a drawn out, expensive court battle over the situation,” he said. “I would like to thank all of the voters who wrote in my name on the ballot and know that I truly appreciate your effort my behalf. I look forward to continuing to serve as your City Council member.”
McPherson would be sworn in during the counci’s first meeting in January, set for Jan 6.
Next, applications will be sought for the vacancy, and the mayor will appoint a committee of council members to review them, hold interviews and make a recommendation to the entire governing body, city officials said.