A lawsuit has been filed over residency in a Kansas City Council race.
Lee Barnes, a candidate for the 5th District at-large City Council seat, is challenging the city residency of Theresa Garza Ruiz, another candidate for that seat.
The lawsuit in Jackson County Circuit Court seeks an expedited hearing and argues that Garza Ruiz fails to meet the requirement that a council candidate live within the city limits of Kansas City for two years before Election Day. This year’s City Council primary election is April 7.
Barnes’ lawsuit alleges that Garza Ruiz, who served on the Jackson County Legislature until recently, actually lived in Blue Springs rather than in Kansas City for periods of time during the past two years. It also says Garza Ruiz gave a Blue Springs address on Missouri Ethics Commission disclosure statements during that time.
The lawsuit says that when Garza Ruiz filed with the Kansas City election board to run for City Council, she presented a lease document with a Kansas City address that was signed March 29, 2013 (nine days before the two-year deadline), but that the actual start date of that lease is not clear. Garza Ruiz registered to vote in Kansas City on Oct. 22, 2013, according to the suit.
Garza Ruiz said Wednesday that she had not seen the lawsuit and could not yet comment. Representatives of the election board and the city of Kansas City, who are also named, also declined to comment.