The field in one of the Kansas City school board races has opened up to write-in candidates because the name of the only filer showed up on an unfortunate list:
The list of those on parole for felony convictions.
The Kansas City Election Board determined that someone with the same name and date of birth as Sanford J. Willis, who filed for the 5th Subdistrict school board seat, is still serving three years’ probation for a second-degree drug-trafficking conviction in 2009.
The school board’s rules say any candidate must be a voter in the district. And state law says anyone serving probation or parole for a felony is not entitled to vote.
And so ended Willis’ campaign before it even started.
Willis, contacted Friday by The Star, said the conviction was not his and that he was not on parole.
But election board officials determined the match of the information was strong enough that they advised the Kansas City school board he should be disqualified from the race. The school district’s attorney said the district left phone messages telling Willis of his disqualification Monday, saying he needed to contact the board before it certified the ballot that evening.
Willis did not contact the district until Tuesday, and he “neither disputed nor confirmed” the information from the election board, the attorney said.
Willis did not return phone messages from The Star Monday and Tuesday.
Four seats will be up for election April 3. Two candidates successfully filed for the 1st Subdistrict — incumbent Arthur Benson and Jon Hile.
The three other seats drew no valid candidates, opening the way for a new round of candidates to be chosen by write-in votes.