By Stephanie Edwards
Thomas Strannigan has withdrawn his name as a candidate for Lake Lotawana mayor, although the outcome of the election may not be so straightforward.
After his candidacy was announced, details of his past came to light. In 1997, Strannigan pled guilty to three Class A felonies for distributing cocaine to an undercover member of the Jackson County Drug Task Force. Two of the incidences occurred within 1,000 feet of an elementary school, and once less than 1,000 feet of a daycare center.
According to Missouri Revised Statute Section 115.306.1 under Election Authorities and Conduct of Elections: “No person shall qualify as a candidate for elective public office in the state of Missouri who has been found guilty of or pled guilty to a felony or misdemeanor under the federal laws of the United States of America or to a felony under the laws of this state or an offense committed in another state that would be considered a felony in this state.”
“After negotiations with our office, Mr. Strannigan has agreed to withdraw as a candidate for office. We had informed him we would file a quo warranto action due to concern that his qualifications as a candidate were not in order,” Michael Mansur, Director of Communication with the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office, shared in a statement from Prosecutor's Jean Peters Baker's office.
Strannigan's name will appear on the ballot anyway, and votes for him will be counted unless a court order is issued to prevent the election board from counting the votes. “Mr. Strannigan withdrawing with do nothing with how we operate if there is no judgment from the court. We would report all totals lacking a court order,” Tammy L. Brown, Director of the Jackson Election Board said.
Last April, a candidate for Lee's Summit City Council was declared ineligible for election due to a past felony conviction. Franklin Tatro ran for a District 1 seat on the Council. Following a ruling by Jackson County Judge James Kanatzar, the election board was ordered to post signs at polling places that the candidate had been declared disqualified and that votes for him would not be tabulated.
The ruling against Tatro was initiated after the Lee's Summit Police Department informed the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office of his past felony conviction.
A similar ruling would be needed in order to prevent votes for Strannigan to be counted.