Petitions Update – 8/17/2023 – PV to ask independent court to decide whether petitions comply with state law
from the City of Prairie Village:
On August 1, 2023, three petitions regarding zoning matters and the City’s form of government were filed with the City and with the Johnson County Election Office. On August 14, the Election Office determined the petitions had enough resident signatures to meet state statutory standards, but expressly stated that it made no determination as to the “legal sufficiency” of the petitions such that they could or should be placed on a ballot for election.
On August 16, and in open session, the Prairie Village City Council voted unanimously to have the City Attorney ask a court to decide whether the three petitions submitted to the City comply with state law and thus could be placed on a ballot.
City officials are required, by sworn oath, to uphold the law. With certain exceptions, state law generally governs and places limitations on any City Council decisions in matters such as those raised by the petitions. In different ways, County and City attorneys have determined that aspects of the petitions do not comply with state law, due to multiple substantive and technical violations.
To resolve these issues once and for all, the City is seeking a declaratory judgment on whether the petitions meet those statutory requirements. Because Kansas courts do not issue advisory opinions, the City must name one or more defendants who are expected to defend the legality of the petitions. The City is not seeking monetary damages from anyone, nor is it seeking a ruling that any signatories to the petitions acted illegally in signing the petitions.
An FAQ can be found here.
excerpt from FAQ:
Is the City suing residents?
No. The City is not suing residents. The City is asking for an independent judicial opinion to determine if the petitions submitted comply with state law – which is the City’s responsibility. Because Kansas courts do not generally issue “advisory” opinions, in order to request such an opinion from the courts, the City is required to name one or more defendants, which includes one not-for-profit corporation and one person (an attorney) that submitted the petitions. However, the City is not seeking monetary damages from this action, nor is it seeking a ruling that any signatories to the petitions acted illegally in signing the petitions. Again:
City of Prairie Village
- Legal counsel for both the County and City have determined the several aspects of the petitions do not meet statutory requirements to be put on the ballot in November.
- The Election Commissioner determined the petitions had enough signatures but did not determine whether they otherwise comply with the law. The Election Commissioner requested the City make that determination.
- Out of fairness to all residents, including those who did not sign the petitions, we are asking for an independent judicial opinion.
The responses from the Election Commissioner can be found here.
excerpt from the Election Commissioner response:
I make no determination as to the legal sufficiency of the petition.Fred Sherman, Election Commissioner
The legal paperwork that the City filed with district court can be found here.
To the extent it is able, the City will share information about what happens next and the anticipated timeline of this legal action.
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