Mayor Sly James can stay on the Kansas City ballot in June.
Jackson County Circuit Judge Joel Fahnestock on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit seeking to block James from a place on the city’s general election ballot. Primary opponent Clay Chastain had filed suit against James, claiming James was delinquent on property taxes early this year and therefore could not run for re-election as mayor.
Vincent Lee, who will also be on the mayoral ballot in June, attempted to join Chastain’s lawsuit in April.
But Fahnestock said Chastain lacked standing to sue and had not explored other remedies to strike James from the ballot. Lee, she said, also waited too long to try to join the case.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
Even if the two candidates had followed proper procedure, the judge said James would still be eligible for the ballot.
“There is no provision to which Chastain points, nor is there one in Missouri law, that provides for disqualification based on these facts,” she wrote. “The court declines to create one.”
James said he was pleased with the decision, although he still regrets a delay in paying the property taxes he owed.
“Every time that there was a mistake, I corrected it,” James told reporters. “Regardless of how people want to blow that up or make it seem, I’ll do something different to make sure it doesn’t happen, but I don’t know what more I can say.”
Lee said he had not studied the ruling but planned to appeal.
“I’m not letting him off the hook that easy,” he said.
Chastain also said he planned an appeal.
“The judge erred badly,” he said in an email.