Mount Vernon Treasurer’s Illegal Move Prompts Calls for Resignation
Critics are calling for the resignation of Jim Shipley, the Democrat elected as treasurer of Mount Vernon in 2010, because Shipley moved outside city limits soon after his election. On June 16, Mount Vernon City Law Director William Smith contacted the Knox County Board of Elections, asking for an investigation to be conducted into the repercussions of Shipleys move and what the consequences may be.
Belinda Lanning, deputy director of the Knox County Board of Elections, has argued that the Board’s responsibility to enforce residency laws ends once a candidate has been elected to public office. As such, the Board of Elections has taken no action to investigate Shipley.
The Ohio Secretary of State has similarly refused to intervene. Deputy Press Secretary Alexis Zoldan termed Shipley’s offense a “local issue” outside the Secretary of State’s control.
According to section 3.15 of the Ohio Revised Code, “[A]t all times during ones term of office [ ] each person holding an elective office of a political subdivision shall be a resident of that political subdivision [ ] any person who fails to meet any of the requirements [ ] [of] this section that apply to the person shall forfeit the office.”
Additionally, section 733.68 of the Ohio Revised Code requires that “each officer of a municipal corporation, or of any department or board of a municipal corporation, whether elected or appointed as a substitute for a regular officer, shall be an elector of the municipal corporation.”
Smith told the Board of Elections that “not only is it required that a person be a resident when elected but that person must continue to be a resident throughout his or her term of office.” In 2011, Smith notified Shipley that he had violated Ohio law by moving outside city limits shortly after his election, but Shipley said he “didnt feel [he] had to respond” to the letter from the citys law director.
Shipley told Mount Vernon News reporter Alan Reed that he plans “to stay for a while if [he] can,” adding that he occasionally receives mail at the house he owned before he moved.
Knox County Democratic Party Chairman Adam Gilson said that the county party was not previously aware that Shipley was violating the law, noting they “havent discussed it as a party; it hasnt been brought up at any of our executive committee meetings,” and Gilson “[hasnt] spoken to Mr. Shipley about the matter.”
On June 27, an editorial letter from Knox County Republican Party chairman Chip McConville ran in the News, in which McConville called on Shipley to resign from office, and to “refund to the city the salary [Shipley] has drawn since he decided to move out of Mount Vernon.”
McConville wrote, “Ohio law requires that city officials to live in the city where they hold office. Our mayor, auditor and law director all live in Mount Vernon, as do our council members. The city treasurer must also reside in the city.”
In addition to his duties as county party chairman, McConville is an assistant prosecuting attorney for the Knox County Prosecutor’s Office.
The City Law Director’s office was contacted for comment on this issue, but had not returned our calls by the time of this article’s publishing.