Joplin City Council Member Explains Decision to Not Resign After - KOAM TV 7

Joplin City Council Member Explains Decision to Not Resign After Felony

Joplin, MO -

A newly elected Joplin City Council member who submitted his resignation yesterday explains why he's now reversing that decision.  City Councilman Joshua Bard was charged in 2005 in Newton County for manufacturing meth.  Bard says he thought this conviction was public knowledge and wouldn't impact his ability to run for City Council.

For those who think Bard should resign...

"I can see their side," says Bard.

Politics can have curveballs.

"I need for them to see my side, as well," says Bard.

Bard says he has never hid his felony conviction from the public, especially during a recent public forum.

"On February first, I went to Missouri Southern and I made it public about my past," says Bard.

Bard says he did receive a packet from the City about requirements for being a City Council candidate.

"You have to be a resident of four years or longer and a registered voter," says Bard.

...That's it.  Bard says there was nothing in the City packet addressing if felons could run for office.  He says he researched state statutes.

"I even did a little more due diligence when it came to that, knowing my past, and I wanted to make sure I did it honestly," says Bard.

Bard says he missed a state statute barring felons from being a candidate for local or state offices.  He says earlier this week, Joplin's city attorney talked to him about his felony.

"Just came to the conclusion that resigning would be the best possible solution," says Bard.

But the more Bard thought about it, and the more people who voted for him talked to him...

"If a felon is allowed to vote after serving their probation or parole, that should not hinder them from running for public office," says Bard.

Remember, politics can have curveballs.

"There were no checks done," says Bard.  "I made it to City Council.  I'm no longer running for City Council, I'm a Council person."

For those who voted for Joshua Bard...

"The eleven-hundred and eighty-three people who voted for me deserve for me to fight for the chair," says Bard.

Bard says his request to remain on City Council may end up being taken to the county prosecutor.  Joplin's city attorney said in an e-mail to us that the City does not do background checks on City Council candidates, and does not have the authority to assess the qualifications of candidates.

Joplin's city attorney full responses to our e-mailed questions:

"Section 2.02. - Qualifications.

A city council member shall be a qualified voter of the city and shall have been a resident thereof for at least four years immediately prior to his election. The four zone city council members shall be residents and qualified and registered voters of the respective zones provided for in Section 1.05. City council members shall hold no other lucrative public office nor any lucrative position in the city government during their terms as city council members, except that the following persons shall not be disqualified: A member of the National Guard or Naval or Military Reserve or a notary public. If a city council member shall cease to possess the above qualifications, or if a city council member shall be absent for three successive regular council meetings or for more than five regular council meetings within any four month period without cause acceptable to a majority of the other members of the council, or shall be convicted of crime involving moral turpitude, his office shall immediately become vacant.

The city does not do background checks and does not have the authority to assess the qualifications of candidates.  We take it on the candidates sworn oath that they qualify.

Candidates are required to sign a Declaration of Candidacy, a sworn statement, that they qualify and meet all requirements of the Home Rule Charter and the Code of Ordinances of the City and the Statutes of the State of Missouri.  Mr. Bard signed this Declaration."


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