LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Metro Council President David James has asked Councilman Vitalis Lanshima to resign after the County’s Attorney says Lanshima should not be allowed to hold his seat because he’s registered to vote in another country.
President James held a press conference Saturday afternoon, about the future of District 21 representation.
James claims he asked for Lanshima’s resignation, and Lanshima said he will not resign. Attorney General Andy Beshear will now evaluate the situation.
“We have asked him if he plans to resign, he has told us he does not plan to resign," James said.
Lanshima makes $48,000 for his service on the council, but in late August announced he would be running for the House of Representatives in his home country of Nigeria when his term on the council was over.
The council recently tabled a motion to investigate into Lanshima’s Nigerian campaign.
He represented the most diverse district in Metro Louisville, and was the first immigrant to serve on city council. He is also the first resident with a disability to serve on Metro Council.
Lanshima first came to the United States to join the track team at Bellarmine University, in 2002.
“I have not indicated that I changed my residency. Just because there’s an address in a foreign country does not mean I don’t live in Louisville anymore.” Lanshima said.
Before Lanshima, the District 21 seat was held by Dan Johnson. Johnson was removed from the seat in November 2017, following an accusation of sexual harassment by Councilwoman Jessica Green. Green claimed Johnson grabbed her rear end while they were posing for a photo. Another woman, Erin Hinson who is a legislative assistant for councilwoman Angela Leet, claimed she too was sexually harassed by Johnson.
A committee which included Green and now-Mayoral candidate Angela Leet later filed papers to terminate Johnson, stating he “has been verbally abusive and has leveled personal attacks on the character and motives of other members of the council, the staff and the public while failing to demonstrate respect for laws that protect citizens from harassment.”
Following Johnson’s firing, dozens of candidates were interviewed, of which Lanshima was chosen by the council.
“I don’t believe Councilman Lanshima entered the race in Nigeria in order to cause this confusion I think that he thought he was doing the right thing and it wasn’t until yesterday that we found out there was a real problem,” James said.
At the time of his selection, the President of Metro Council was David Yates. Yates had the following to say when Lanshima was chosen.
“I think it is important to have someone in the position who will be held accountable by the people,” Yates said. “The idea that they are running for election means there is that level of accountability.”
Previous votes in which Lanshima participated will not be impacted by this.
This story will be updated.