Shepherdsville's mayor resigns again; this time, voters have no - News, Weather & Sports

Shepherdsville's mayor resigns again; this time, voters have no voice for two years

Shepherdsville Mayor Scott Ellis (Source: WAVE 3 News) Shepherdsville Mayor Scott Ellis (Source: WAVE 3 News)

SHEPHERDSVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Barely a week after a court ruling put him back in office, Scott Ellis has resigned again as Shepherdsville's mayor.

"It was the right thing to do for his family and for Shepherdsville," City Council member Larry Hatfield said Wednesday.

"I'm ashamed of how some of it went down," Council member Bernard “Bernie” Brown said.

Brown and Hatfield filed the lawsuit that led to Ellis' reinstatement, though they believe criminal allegations of sexual harassment and attempts to compel prostitution, which were later dropped, made Ellis unfit to serve. The Circuit Court ruling determined that Ellis had resigned only the duties, not the office itself, when he resigned in February, not quite two years into his four-year elected term.

Only a barking dog answered his front door when WAVE 3 News tried to reach Ellis at his home late Wednesday morning. But his resignation letter - dated Tuesday but not emailed to Council members until Wednesday – made it clear Ellis would resign both duties and office "effective at 4 p.m. Sept. 6 or as soon as could be accepted." Council's next scheduled meeting is September 13.

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This time, voters won't get to choose who fills out that term.

"Had the judge's ruling not occurred as it has, we would have had six candidates who filed for office
to fill the vacancy," Bullitt County Clerk Kevin Mooney said.

Those candidates were set to run in a Special Election added to the Nov. 8 General Election. But Kentucky's Constitution requires that any City Office vacancy created less than three months before a scheduled election must be filled by appointment, until the next scheduled election.

"Which in this case will be November 2018, " Mooney said, "2017 is an off year for all scheduled elections."

"My preference would be that Council get together and make the appointment," Brown said.

"I don't think for one minute that we're going to agree on a mayor," Hatfield said, citing the fight that ensued when Bryan James, the husband of a Council member, was appointed to serve as mayor until the November elections.

That appointment led to the lawsuit that put Ellis back in office without deciding whether James' appointment was legal.

"I believe we can waive the 30 day rule, which would put the appointment into the hands of Gov. Bevin," Hatfield said.

But Brown, Mooney and the Kentucky Secretary of State's office agree that neither statute nor Constitution allows for "fast-tracking" or "passing the buck" to the Governor.

All six candidates who'd filed for the Special Election have expressed interest in being appointed mayor for the next two years, Brown said.

"The concern that I would have about appointing one of the six is the appearance of being unfair to the others," Brown added.

Hatfield has served one four-year term as Mayor.

"I don't want it, and I wouldn't get it either," he laughed. "As of today. Something could change my mind, but I did not sign up to run for mayor, nor to run again for council.

He and Brown both want to know who authorized paychecks for Ellis to cover the six months he was out of office, and for James for the time he served until the Court order reinstated Ellis.

"That's the $64,000 question," Brown said.

Hatfield asserts that the total is more than $66,000, for a job that carries an annual salary of about $55,000.

"Seems to me only the mayor or the city attorney could authorize that," he said.

City attorney Joe Wantland is on vacation in South Carolina, his office told WAVE 3 News Wednesday. He had not returned phone calls as of Wednesday evening.

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