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Winner of Lucas council seat is not a U.S. citizen

4/5/2013

By TIM UNRUH

By TIM UNRUH

Special to The Hays Daily News

LUCAS -- Adam Baker doubts he'll end up serving in the office to which he was elected, but it was flattering to have received enough votes.

Baker, a British immigrant who has applied for U.S. citizenship, was asked by several people in the past year if he would mind if they wrote his name on the ballot for Lucas City Council, and if he would serve if elected.

"I said, 'You can do what you want. It's a free country.' I don't know if I'm even allowed to or not, because of my status," said Baker, 32.

The write-in campaign, apparently launched by others in the town of fewer than 500 people, garnered Baker 62 votes, three more than incumbent Tamara Seirer, for Position 1 on the city council. Four other write-ins received between one and four votes.

The results prompted complaint calls to Russell County Clerk Mary Nuss.

"They have told me they don't think he's a U.S. citizen, and I have not been able to totally confirm that," Nuss said Thursday morning.

"He is not a registered voter, either, so that is also going to come into play," she said.

The quandary will be discussed at 10 a.m. Monday when Russell County commissioners canvass the votes.

To be elected, a person must be 18 or older, reside in the voting area and be a "qualified elector," said Kay Curtis, a spokeswoman at the Kansas Secretary of State's office in Topeka.

"Being a registered voter is the most common way that the qualification is documented," she said.

Baker is owner of Baker Transportation, a company that hauls commodities such as grain and feed. He has lived in Lucas for 12 years. He has applied for U.S. citizenship and has been waiting for two years to hear from the federal government.

"My immigration attorney said I'm just waiting on a piece of paper to pledge allegiance, and that's it," Baker said.

The situation is new to Dan Krug, Russell County attorney.

Until the canvass, he said, "We're kind of in limbo."

If there is a remedy, Krug said it will be discovered Monday morning.

"If he's not a citizen, there's no way he could be a qualified elector," Krug said.

The oath of office that will be administered to those elected to the city council in Lucas includes no requirement of citizenship, according to Kay Mettlen, Lucas city clerk.

Those elected must "solemnly swear" to uphold the constitutions of Kansas and the United States, she said, while performing the duties of the office.

Tamara Seirer was pleased with the notion that someone else would serve on the council. She will try to attend the election canvass Monday.

"It's always good to have fresh eyes come into a group or organization," she said. "Adam's a nice young man."