Volume 104, Number 15 - April 12, 2007
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Smith will appeal
After being forced to vacate his seat on the Pinedale Town Council, Dave Smith has decided to appeal Judge Norman Young’s decision.
After Smith was elected to the council last May as the top vote-getter, Robert Brito and Loretta Deats filed a lawsuit challenging the election on the grounds that Smith and Erik Ashley, another council candidate, were not registered to vote when they petitioned to be included on the ballot, in violation of state law. The defense, led by town attorney Ed Wood, argued an earlier case, Rue v. Carter, provided precedence for accepting Smith’s election. Carter, a Cheyenne city councilwoman was not registered to vote when she petitioned to be on the ballot, but registered soon after. The Wyoming Supreme Court ruled she had met the requirements for holding office before being elected, and her election should stand. However, the state legislature amended its laws to overrule the decision in 1997. Judge Young declared Smith’s election invalid, giving his seat to third-place finisher Dave Hohl.
While Smith will appeal the ruling as a private citizen, the town will finance his legal fees, Mayor Steve Smith said. The council decided to pay for his appeal at the end of its April 9 meeting. Gary Heuck brought the motion, and Nylla Kunard and Chris House voted in support of it. Hohl abstained from voting on the issue.
Heuck said he made the motion because he believed Deats and Brito’s lawsuit targeted the town. Another part of the suit, which has not been ruled on, charged the town, particularly clerk Patty Racich, mismanaged the entire election, by failing to verify that Smith and Ashley were qualified to hold office when they petitioned to be on the ballot.
Heuck added the ruling might discourage citizens from running for public office. “How will you get people to run for office? This guy [Smith] was trying to do a service to the town,” he said.
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