DDA question will not be on ballot

GLADSTONE — Gladstone residents will not see a question to abolish the city’s Downtown Development Authority on the Nov. 7 ballot despite the efforts of former city commissioner and current commission candidate Mike O’Connor.

On July 31, O’Connor submitted a ballot initiative petition to repeal city ordinances that create, govern, and set up boundaries for the DDA and its district. The petition was submitted with 438 signatures, which is more than the 15 percent of the voter turnout during the last presidential election required for a ballot initiative.

However, O’Connor was not quick enough for the initiative to make it onto the November ballot. Not all petitions submitted for ballot questions are sufficient and valid, and the process used to determine whether or not a petition meets all the necessary criteria can take time.

“I am in the process of reviewing the petition and receiving counsel from the city attorney. The Home Rule City Act provides the city clerk 45 days to certify the sufficiency or insufficiency of the petition,” said City Clerk Kim Berry during Monday night’s regular city commission meeting.

Today is the deadline for questions to be finalized and submitted for inclusion on the ballot. While a ruling on the validity of the petition will still be made within the 45-day window, the question itself may appear on a future ballot.

Residents will still see O’Connor’s name on the ballot as a candidate for the partial-term seat currently held by Commissioner Brad Mantela, who was appointed to the seat when O’Connor vacated it in September of 2016. O’Connor’s resignation from the commission was unexpected, and was made in protest to a non-disparagement agreement the city entered into for former City Manager Darla Falcon.

Despite the ballot initiative not appearing on the November ballot, O’Connor will most likely have his day in court. The former commissioner is suing the city, the city commission, and the DDA in the 47th Circuit Court. His suit claims the city and DDA have violated state law regarding the use of surplus funds collected through tax increment financing.

The city has declined to comment on the lawsuit, as it is an ongoing legal matter.