Green Park candidate was ousted from ballot; mayor appoints another replacement

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Green Park City Hall as seen on Google Maps.

By Erin Achenbach, Staff Reporter

Green Park Mayor Tim Thuston appointed a new Ward 1 alderman at the August Board of Aldermen meeting — the second alderman he’s appointed since being elected mayor last year— after no candidate ran for the seat in the June municipal elections.

Thuston appointed Esad Softic to the position of Ward 1 alderman since a candidate disqualification led to an empty ballot for the position in the June 2 election, which had been postponed from April 7 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The seat had previously been held by Scott Treece, who himself had been appointed to the office by Thuston a year ago, soon after former Ward 1 Alderman Tony Pousosa resigned in July 2019 to move out of Green Park.

When candidate filing for the municipal election was originally underway at the beginning of this year, Green Park resident Staci Laurino filed to run for Ward 1 alderman. Treece did not seek election in June due to personal reasons within his family.

However, Laurino’s time as a candidate was short lived. In February, the Missouri Ethics Commission contacted City Administrator James Mello to inform him that Laurino was disqualified as a candidate, since she had failed to file all the proper paperwork. Mello told The Call that Laurino did not elaborate on what paperwork she failed to file but was nonetheless disqualified, leaving no candidate for Ward 1.

At the July 20 Board of Aldermen meeting, Mello told the board that while declarations of candidacy typically must be made by the end of January for municipal elections in April, the deadline to file as a write-in candidate remains through the end of March.

“The original candidate who filed … rescinded their candidacy after we finalized the ballot. … The state later removed them from the ballot, leaving no Ward 1 candidate,” said Mello. “Because no one filed as a write-in candidate, write-in votes are not counted. You have to file as a write-in candidate, file certain financial disclosures with the state.”

Ward 1 Alderman Michael Broughton suggested that Thuston appoint former Ward 1 Alderman Carol Hamilton to the vacant seat, pointing to Hamilton’s experience in the position in the past.

“She’s been an alderman before, so she could step into this,” Broughton said.

Broughton also had suggested Hamilton before Treece was appointed to the seat last year, but Thuston said at the time that he felt it was time to “bring some new people along.”

Broughton also questioned why the aldermen hadn’t been told about Laurino’s disqualification. But Mello said that it was not typically standard practice for the city to tell aldermen who was running.

Treece continued to hold the seat until Softic was officially sworn in at the Aug. 17 meeting. Because the seat was filled once again with an appointment from the mayor, it will again be up for election for a one-year term in the municipal contest April 6, 2021. The other Ward 1 seat, currently held by Broughton, will also be up for election for a two-year term.

“These are extraordinary circumstances,” said Mello.