Clay Chastain, who came in third in Kansas City’s three-person mayoral primary election, filed a lawsuit Wednesday attempting to disqualify Mayor Sly James so Chastain can be on the general election ballot.
Chastain alleged in his lawsuit, which he filed in Jackson County Circuit Court without an attorney, that James had unpaid taxes when the mayor signed an affidavit to run for office and the document said he was current on his city taxes. Chastain said the incorrect affidavit should have disqualified James from appearing on the April 7 primary election ballot.
But James says it’s a non-issue because the late tax has been paid.
In an interview, James said that when he filled out the affidavit in December to run for re-election, he asked his wife if they had paid their personal property taxes and she replied yes. The couple does not pay residential property taxes because they rent.
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James said that in early February, a staffer brought to his attention that taxes on the cars listed in his name on county records had not been paid. James said that his wife had gotten her car registered and made a payment at that time that she thought covered all the taxes.
“She assumed that was the payment. It wasn’t,” James said.
He said that as soon as he became aware of the tax owed, he paid it. County records show a tax of $526.65 was paid on Feb. 2. That tax would have been due on Dec. 31, 2014.
The mayor then checked with the city attorney to see if that posed any problem and says he was told it didn’t. James pointed to state law, which says that anyone who wants to challenge a candidate for unpaid state or municipal taxes can file a complaint with the Department of Revenue. Chastain did not do that.
If a complaint is filed, state law says that if the department validates the complaint, it shall notify the candidate, who has 30 days to remit any unpaid tax. If the tax isn’t paid in 30 days, the candidate shall then be disqualified from appearing on the ballot.
The top two vote getters in the primary advance to the June 23 general election ballot. James got 82 percent of the vote and came in first, followed by Vincent Lee, who had 11 percent of the vote. Chastain, who lives most of the time in Bedford, Va., came in third with 7 percent of the vote and thus is not slated to advance to the general election ballot.
Chastain is seeking an emergency hearing on his issues and says that if either James or Lee is disqualified, his name should be on the general election ballot instead.