Roeland Park resident and former mayoral candidate Linda Mau this month submitted a petition designed to repeal the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance for review by the Johnson County legal department. Getting the review and an opinion on the petition form and language is the first step in the process of circulating a petition to get a city-wide election.
The legal department replied in a letter to Mau that the form of the question on the petition “was not sufficient.” Mau refused to say if she will submit a new petition for review. “I will let the letter speak for itself and that is my only comment,” she said Thursday. Earlier this week, she had declined to say if she had submitted a petition to the county.
“Ultimately, the governing body (council and mayor) will decide if the petition is valid,” said Mary Buhl, who reviewed the petition and responded to Mau. The county’s review, she said, only gives an opinion on the “form of the question” for its legality. The letter also enumerated other areas that could be problematic for the petition.
Buhl said the legal department has received no other petitions for review that deal with the anti-discrimination ordinance. The council approved the ordinance Aug. 4 when Mayor Joel Marquardt broke a tie vote. The council two weeks earlier had rejected the ordinance 4-3 with one member absent. The ordinance adds gender identity, sexual orientation and military status as protected classes. The city council heard months of divided testimony before its votes.
A valid petition calling for repeal of the ordinance would need 472 signatures, former Roeland Park City Clerk Debra Mootz reported in July. That number is based on a percentage of voters who turned out at the last city election. The signatures would be verified by the Johnson County Election Office.
If a petition gets the signatures, then the city council can either pass the ordinance (which would repeal the anti-discrimination ordinance in this case) within 20 days or call for a city-wide vote on the question. Kansas statutes appear to allow a special election if a city election is not already is scheduled within 90 days.
The deadline for questions to appear on this year’s November ballot is Sept. 5, according to the election office. That timeline virtually rules out getting a vote qualified for that election.
Embedded below are the petition Mau submitted to the county for review, followed by the legal department’s response and the text of the ordinance that the governing body passed on Aug. 4.