St. Louis mayoral hopeful loses lawsuit to get on April ballot

Mar 13, 2017

A St. Louis judge will not force the city's Board of Election Commissioners to put an independent mayoral candidate on the April ballot.

Kacey Cordes paid the required $1,318.20 fee when she filed for office on Feb. 13. But because she was running as an independent, she did not submit any signatures, claiming she was not required to do so as an independent candidate. The Board of Election Commissioners rejected her filing, and St. Louis Circuit Judge Joan Moriarity upheld that decision in a short ruling issued Monday.

Cordes filed her lawsuit filed last week in St. Louis Circuit Court, arguing that the board incorrectly uses the terms "nonpartisan" and "independent" interchangeably, when they are defined differently in state law and governed under separate sections of city election law.

Under state law, her lawsuit said,  independent candidates are people who do not belong to any political party but want to run for an office for which party candidates may run. By contrast, a nonpartisan candidate doesn't belong to a party and is running for an office for which partisan candidates cannot run.

Because the city holds partisan primaries for the mayor's race, Cordes' suit argued, she legally cannot run as a nonpartisan candidate. And, the suit claimed, city law says that as an independent candidate, she is only required to submit a declaration and pay the filing fee. Only nonpartisan candidates, the lawsuit said, have to collect signatures.

But Moriarty disagreed with Cordes' analysis. 

"It would be absurd to interpret Section 2.08.330 of the City Code as [Cordes] argues," the judge wrote. That section fully outlines the process that candidates who don't run in partisan primaries have to follow to get on the ballot, Moriarty said, and "no other provision of Chapter 2.08 of the City Code contains a separate method by which an 'independent' candidate shall be nominated for elective office."

The portion of city law that specifically references independent candidates deals only with how those candidates can pay filing fees, she said, and doesn't set out an entirely new nominating process.

Cordes' attorney, Michael Brockland, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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