JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Craighead County Judge Marvin Day announced his decision to run for the open Jonesboro Mayor’s seat on July 23rd. Since that time, the legality of that intention is being questioned throughout the state.
The question of legality for Day’s bid is based around Amendment 95 to the Arkansas state constitution in 2016.
On July 28, Senator John Cooper told Region 8 News that he has requested the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office for an opinion on the matter.
The AG’s office told Region 8 News they’ve received Senator Cooper’s request, and are looking into the matter. No timeline was given as to when the AG would weigh-in.
Day said he is “not surprised” by claims the amendment to the Arkansas state constitution makes him ineligible to run for Jonesboro mayor.
In a one-on-one conversation with Region 8 News, Day said he had spoken to several attorneys about Amendment 95 prior to announcing his candidacy.
“They believe it won’t hold up in court,” Day said.
Arkansas voters overwhelmingly approved the amendment in 2016 by a vote of 747,856 to 317,093. It states:
A person elected or appointed to any of the following county offices shall not, during the term for which he or she has been elected, be appointed or elected to any civil office in this state:
(1) County judge;
(2) Justice of the peace;
(4) Circuit clerk;
(5) County clerk;
(9) County surveyor; or
(10) Collector of taxes.
The amendment also increased the length of term in office from two years to four beginning in 2018.
One of the original creators of the 2016 bill, Arkansas House of Representatives Jack Ladyman, told Region 8 News Tuesday his views on the bill, Judge Day’s claims, and next steps:
Over the weekend, Blue Hog Report was the first to report that the amendment prevents Day from seeking election in the upcoming Jonesboro mayoral race.
“I’m not surprised. I was aware that this amendment was out there before I ever announced. [I had sought] legal counsel on it and they really don’t feel like it will hold up in court,” Day said. “They really look at it as a First Amendment issue and that you’d ultimately want the people to decide who represents them.”
When pressed about what he specifically feels is unenforceable about the amendment, Day said as it reads he cannot even run for re-election.
“If you really look at that amendment, technically, I can’t even run for reelection as county judge or any other elected county official can’t run for reelection,” he said. “To go even a step further, the current elected officials that were incumbents, if you follow the letter of this amendment, they would need to be removed from office right now.”
He did not elaborate on who those elected officials might be.
Region 8 News reached out to additional legal experts for comment.
Howard Brill, a Vincent Foster Professor of Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility at the University of Arkansas’ School of Law, sent this statement:
Day also said he had a “pretty good idea” who might have initiated these concerns but refused to comment on the rumor.
On July 23, Day announced his candidacy for the position following Harold Perrin’s announcement the previous day that he would retire at the end of the year.
Andy Shatley, a Jonesboro physical therapist, is also seeking the office. No other candidates have announced their intentions to run officially.
“Let the people decide who they want to lead them,” Day said. " “If it’s decided I’m not eligible or don’t need to do it, hey, it’s understandable, we’ll keep doing what we’re doing in trying to make this community a better place.”
Region 8 News will continue to track this story and provide more updates as they become available.