Elections

A.G.: Leavenworth mayor wrongly removed

LEAVENWORTH — The Leavenworth City Commission had no legal right to remove Shay Baker as mayor, according to an opinion from Kansas Attorney General Steve Six.

The commission in September removed Baker as mayor shortly after it came to light that she wrote a judge urging leniency for a convicted drug dealer. In her letter, she mentioned she was mayor and included her city business card.

Baker maintained she should not have been removed for voicing an unpopular opinion.

"That's not fair to anybody," Baker said. "If the City Commission can remove the mayor by a simple vote, that means if we don't like what the mayor wears to a meeting one day, we can oust that person."

What happens next is up to the City Commission, where Baker continues to serve as a member. The commission will discuss the opinion at its meeting on Tuesday.

The attorney general's opinion is not binding, so the commission may choose to ignore it. Armed with the opinion, Baker could take the city to court to be reinstated.

"I think that'd be a waste of taxpayer money," Baker said this week. "We have the attorney general's opinion in front of us, and we need to respect it."

Commissioner Mark Preisinger said he was not sure whether he wanted to reinstate Baker or ignore the opinion. But he pointed out that Six's opinion was not an order.

Leavenworth has a commission-manager form of government in which the commissioners appoint one member as mayor each year.

Six wrote that Kansas law did not spell out a way to remove a commissioner-appointed mayor. Absent that, the mayor holds the job for the full term, Six wrote.

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