Columnist considers bid for Crestwood’s top post

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony: Writer’s campaign slogan will be ‘If elected, I will not serve’

By Mike Anthony

I am considering running for the Crestwood mayoral post in the April 2017 election.

I don’t live in Crestwood. Heck, I don’t even live in St. Louis County.

But given city officials’ unique interpretation of Crestwood’s filing requirements, I apparently would have no problem being on the ballot if I decide to file.

Former Ward 4 Alderman Steve Nieder, who is seeking election on April 5, contends that another Ward 4 candidate, Ismaine Ayouaz, should not be on this year’s ballot because Ayouaz was not a registered voter for one year before the Jan. 19 filing deadline, as required by the city Charter and city code.

Besides Nieder and Ayouaz, Ryan Pascoe and Tony Kennedy are seeking election to the Ward 4 seat.

City Attorney Lisa Stump told Nieder at the Feb. 9 Board of Aldermen meeting, “… Whether or not he (Ayouaz) complies with the Charter or not and the legal requirements is not an issue for the city right now. He filed an attestation and a certification saying that he is qualified to run and so the city clerk is obligated by law to accept that statement that was made and to put it on the ballot.

“And if there’s a dispute, it’s not the city’s role right now to get in the middle of it.”

In a Feb. 9 email to this writer, City Administrator Kris Simpson wrote, “In response to the situation at hand concerning Mr. Ayouaz’s presence on the ballot: We received specific guidance from our city attorney informing us that the City Clerk (Helen Ingold) is not permitted to investigate a candidate’s qualifications.”

Well, that certainly clears the way for my candidacy if I decide to file for mayor next year. The city would have no choice but to place my name on the ballot if I just file an attestation and a certification stating that I’m qualified to run. And my qualifications cannot be investigated, according to Stump and Simpson.

Certainly it’s just a coincidence that Nieder is the same person Mayor Gregg Roby attempted to remove from the Planning and Zoning Commission in 2014 at a substantial cost in legal fees to the city. As readers may recall, Nieder was forced to hire his own attorney to challenge Roby’s attempt to remove him from his volunteer post on the commission.

We can’t help but wonder if Nieder had forgotten to dot an i or cross a t on his candidacy forms whether city officials would have welcomed him on the April 5 ballot, no questions asked.

So who’s responsible for certifying candidates and their qualifications for office in Crestwood?

Roby said last week that he believes the issue is one to be decided by the state of Missouri or the county Board of Election Commissioners — not the city.

However, Eric Fey, Democratic director of elections for the county election board, told the Call’s Gloria Lloyd last week, “Each political subdivision certifies candidates for their respective offices. We only take filings for the county offices and township committee people.”

So given Crestwood officials’ stance that a candidate’s qualifications cannot be investigated, that opens the door to anyone — resident or nonresident — who wishes to file for a seat, including me.

But even though it certainly appears that my name would have to be placed on the ballot, on second thought, I don’t think I’ll run for the Crestwood mayoral post.

After all, my campaign slogan would have to be: If elected, I will not serve.