BOE inaction gives Waddell seat
By JUDY SHERARD
The Hays USD 489 Board of Education voted Monday night during a special meeting to take no action on the certified April 2 election results from the Ellis County election officer.
The vote means Josh Waddell, who received the second highest vote total, will take his seat in July.
After the election, Ellis County Clerk Donna Maskus said Waddell was ineligible to be on the ballot because he was not registered to vote in Ellis County. When she certified the election results, she made a notation on the certificate Waddell was ineligible.
"Any person who is an elector may become a candidate for board membership," Bill Jeter, who serves as the board's attorney as well as Ellis County counselor, told the board. "Qualifications are set forth in the Kansas Constitution."
Anyone who is a U.S. citizen, attained age 18 and resides in the voting area in which he or she seeks to vote, "shall be deemed a qualified elector," Jeter said. "A requirement of registration is not prescribed an additional qualification."
After defining a qualified elector, Jeter laid out five options for the board to consider.
The first was to take no action and accept the certified results.
They could by motion, second and majority vote, agree to accept the election results specifically including Josh Waddell.
The third option would be to ask the district court for a judgment on Waddell's qualifications.
The board could request an attorney general's opinion, but the attorney general doesn't have to give one and it could take months, Jeter said.
Finally, the board could refuse to recognize Waddell as a new school board member, which could require filing a court action.
Greg Schwartz, board vice president, asked the legal effect of the county clerk's notation that Waddell isn't qualified.
"That has no legal effect," Jeter said. "That would be an opinion and does not set a legal precedent."
"I think we need to take some affirmative action," Schwartz said before making a motion to do nothing as in other elections, which would result in Waddell becoming a member of the board.
For the board to do anything but take no action could be a mistake, said board member Alan Moore.
Schwartz said the reason for the motion is to put an end to the issue and move forward.
Jeter said there would be no consequence to the motion to take no action.
"I don't want to take any action," said board member Sharon Befort. "I feel like my personal opinions are just my personal opinions. ... I don't think it was fair to other board members that ran elections and spent money. I don't know that it was fair to voters if this was an issue that came up before the election and wasn't shared with voters, and I actually know for sure it's not fair to this board that we have to try to take care of something that we didn't create."
The motion passed on a vote of 5-1. Befort cast the dissenting vote saying she wanted to take no action including approving the motion.
Board member Richard Kraemer, who lost his bid for re-election, was absent.
Waddell said he was "very pleased" with the outcome.
He will join Lance Bickle and Danielle Robben as new members of the school board at the first meeting in July.
The second agenda item was a 45-minute executive session for an unrelated non-elected personnel issue.
The reason being the confidentiality of such matters, said Darren Schumacher, board president.