Can voters remove a sitting mayor from office in Danville?

Today’s Advocate-Messenger reports that a petition is circulating demanding that Danville Mayor Hunstad resign following his comments toward the LGBT community at the June 9 commission meeting.

Without taking a position one way or another on the merits of such a petition, I’m just going to take a wild guess that he’s not going to accept the petition’s invitation to resign. In that event, is there anything that the petition’s supporters could do to force the resignation of the mayor, or any other city elected official for that matter?

In a word, no. Danville is a third class city under Kentucky law, and KRS 83A.040.9 clearly states:

Except in cities of the first class, any elected officer, in case of misconduct, incapacity, or willful neglect in the performance of the duties of his office, may be removed from office by a unanimous vote of the members of the legislative body exclusive of any member to be removed, who shall not vote in the deliberation of his removal. No elected officer shall be removed without having been given the right to a full public hearing. The officer, if removed, shall have the right to appeal to the Circuit Court of the county and the appeal shall be on the record. No officer so removed shall be eligible to fill the office vacated before the expiration of the term to which originally elected.

In other words, the only way that Mayor Hunstad could be forcibly removed from office is if the other four sitting commissioners vote to remove him. My strong hunch is that there is little desire or motivation for such a move by the other four sitting commissioners. That is very likely a non-starter, unless perhaps the petition is able to gather the signatures of a critical mass of Danville voters – perhaps a third or so of Danville eligible voters (3,000+ signatures, give or take). I would also put that in the “highly unlikely” category.

Note: I’m not an attorney so it’s possible that I misinterpreted the KRS statute or am unaware of a separate provision that would permit such a recall procedure. If such is the case, I welcome any corrections.

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