Updated: Klund will remain on ballot in fire district race

Judge issues ruling Tuesday in Ryan’s lawsuit

By Mike Anthony

A St. Louis County Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday that Mehlville Fire Protection District candidate Mike Klund will remain on the April 2 election ballot.

Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors Secretary Ed Ryan filed a lawsuit Jan. 28 against Klund and the county Board of Election Commissioners that sought to have Klund removed from the ballot.

Klund, of Lemay, filed Jan. 15 to challenge Ryan, of Concord, in the April election for a Board of Directors seat.

Ryan, first elected in April 2007, is seeking a second six-year term on the fire board.

County Circuit Court Judge Michael T. Jamison heard arguments from attorneys representing the parties during hearings Feb. 13 and Tuesday before issuing his ruling.

Look for full coverage in next week’s Call.

Below is the Call’s previous story:

A St. Louis County Circuit Court judge had yet to issue a ruling before the Call’s press time on whether Mehlville Fire Protection District candidate Mike Klund will remain on the April 2 election ballot.

Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors Secretary Ed Ryan filed a lawsuit Jan. 28 against Klund and the county Board of Election Commissioners that seeks to have Klund removed from the ballot.

Klund, of Lemay, filed Jan. 15 to challenge Ryan, of Concord, in the April election for a Board of Directors seat.

Ryan, first elected in April 2007, is seeking a second six-year term on the fire board.

In the lawsuit, Ryan contends Klund is not qualified to be a candidate in the April election because “upon information and belief, Defendant Klund has not paid his St. Louis County personal property taxes for the year 2012, which were due on or before Dec. 31, 2012.”

Klund had owed $295.15 — $283.69 in personal property tax, $5.67 in interest and $5.79 in penalties — for 2012, according to the county Department of Revenue’s website. The $295.15 was paid Jan. 28 — the date the suit was filed — according to the website.

Ryan initially was represented by attorney Mathew Hoffman, who also serves as legal counsel for the fire district.

In an amended petition filed Feb. 1, Ryan also named the Mehlville Fire Protection District as a defendant. He now is represented by attorney James Bax.

Klund is represented by attorney Rick Barry, who in the past represented members of the now-defunct Mehlville Local 1889 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, or IAFF. Barry’s firm currently represents IAFF Local 2665 and the Missouri State Council of Firefighters, among other clients.

County Circuit Court Judge Michael T. Jamison heard arguments from attorneys representing the parties during a roughly 12-minute hearing in his chambers Feb. 13.

In his amended petition, Ryan cites Missouri Statute 115.526.1, which “authorizes plaintiff to challenge the declaration of candidacy and qualifications of Defendant Klund to seek or hold the office of district director or to appear on the ballot for such office.”

The lawsuit also cites Missouri Statute 115.342, which states, “Any person who files as a candidate for election to a public office shall be disqualified from participation in the election for which the candidate has filed (if) such person is delinquent in the payment of any … personal property taxes.

“Similarly, Section 71.005 RSMo. provides that ‘(n)o person shall be a candidate for municipal office unless such person complies with the provisions of Section 115.346, regarding payment of municipal taxes or user fees.'”

In his response to the suit, Klund contends Missouri Statute 115.342 “does not apply to candidates for ‘special district’ office.”

“In this instant case, Defendant Klund might appear to be in violation of §115.342 RSMo. as his St. Louis County personal property tax was paid after his Jan. 15, 2013, declaration of candidacy,” Klund’s response states.

But Section 115.342 is in a subchapter of Chapter 115 that states, “This subchapter shall not apply to candidates for special district offices, township offices in township organization counties, or city, town and village offices,” according to Klund’s response.

“By the terms of Chapter 115, Section §115.342 RSMo. does not apply to candidates for fire protection district office,” Klund’s response states.

The response also contends that statutes 115.346 and 71.005 “do not apply to candidates for fire protection district office,” and that application of statutes 115.342, 115.346 and 71.005 to Klund “would constitute a regulation of his right of access to the ballot.”

Since 2002, according to the Department of Revenue’s website, Klund has paid his personal property taxes on time twice — in 2005 and 2006.

Shortly after the Call spoke with Klund on Jan. 28 about the lawsuit, the Department of Revenue’s website showed his personal property taxes for 2012 had been paid.