Crestwood candidate’s election victory could jeopardize his son’s job with city

By BURKE WASSON

A Crestwood aldermanic candidate is continuing to campaign for election — even if winning results in his son being removed as a city Police Department employee.

Ward 2 candidate Tom Ford said when he filed for candidacy in Crestwood’s April 4 election, he was unaware of a section of the city’s Municipal Code that prevents family members of elected officials to be employed by the city.

If Ford is elected, according to the city code, Ford’s son Michael would be removed as a Police Department employee on May 1.

However, the city code states that a vote of three-fourths of the Board of Aldermen would allow Police Officer Michael Ford to keep his badge with the city.

At the moment, Ford is not an elected official. But if Ward 2 voters elect him as their next alderman over fellow candidate Chris Pickel, the elder Ford said he will defer the fate of his son’s job status to City Attorney Rob Golterman and the Board of Aldermen.

“I’m relying on Mr. Golterman to make that decision, and we will move on from there in whichever direction we move,” Tom Ford said. “Just for clarification, I have not gone to anyone on the current board or, for that matter, to the people who are running and asked for any special treatment or special dispensation or special anything. Frankly, it doesn’t involve them. It involves the decision that Tom Ford and Tom Ford only has to make. And I will make that decision once I’m told yea, nay, sidewise or whatever.”

Golterman confirmed that he was recently made aware of the section of the city code and said he would study the issue and make a legal determination if Ford is elected. Otherwise, Golterman said he would refuse to speculate.

Despite the possibility that being elected could result in his son being fired, Ford said he does not view his candidacy as jeopardizing his son’s position.

“It’s going to be hard to believe,” he said, “but I have not talked to my son about this at all because we don’t discuss politics in Crestwood or otherwise.”

Ford said he was first alerted to the section of the city code by a responder on his Internet “blog” site, the Crestwood Independent.

Under Section 2-141 of Article 5 of Crestwood’s Municipal Code:

• “(a) No person shall be employed by the city or be appointed or reappointed to any office, whether such office is an appointive office or appointment is to fill a vacancy in any elective office, who is related as the husband or wife, brother or sister, mother or father, son or daughter, son-in-law or daughter-in-law or brother-in-law or sister-in-law of any person holding an elective office in the city.

• “(b) Any person employed by the city or holding an appointive office in the city, who shall have a relative, within the degrees mentioned in this section, elected to any office in the city shall automatically be removed from his position with the city on the first of the month following the qualification of his elected relative.

• “(c) The provisions of this section may be suspended for good cause in any case by resolution of the Board of Aldermen, approved by three-fourths of all the members of the board.”

Despite the fact that the board could vote to retain his son’s position with the Police Department, Ford said if he were elected, he would abstain from the decision because of a clear conflict of interest.

“I would have to abstain,” Ford said. “I would have to abstain with anything that would have anything to do with a family member or, for that matter, even a close friend. Otherwise, I’m not going to be as much of an honest politician, if you will.”

Because of his son’s employment with the Police Department, Ford also said he would refuse to vote on any matter concerning that department if he were elected.

“I would be unlikely to vote on any — and I repeat any — sort of issue that would put shall we say a cloud of suspicion over the Police Department,” Ford said. “That’s not why I’m running. I am not going to be there to say: ‘Well, I want you to think my way.’ But do remember this, please. There are three layers between the Board of Aldermen and the actual police officers or firefighters for that matter. You’ve got the mayor, you’ve got the city administrator and you’ve got the police chief and fire chief. And it’s unlikely that I could convince three people to do my bidding, first of all. Second of all, I wouldn’t ask them to.”

As an example of how difficult he be-lieves it would be to sway every city official, Ford cited Mayor Roy Robinson.

“I would have to be able to exert influence over Roy Robinson, which if you know Roy Robinson, you know that’s not going to happen,” Ford said. “He’s like me. He’s an opinionated guy and he sticks with his beliefs. He doesn’t change them, and I applaud that because I do the same thing.”

When it comes to a decision on the fate of his son’s employment, Ford said he is taking a hands-off approach because it is the most conscientious decision.

“On both sides of this issue, I’ve had people tell me: ‘The city clerk should have told you immediately,'” Ford said. “But, you know, it’s not the end of the world. I mean, again, I would leave it to the decision of the city attorney. Here’s the thing. I am what I am and I am not going to sugarcoat anything and I’m not going to lie about it. That would be an awfully poor way to start.”