Is Ward 2 Alderwoman Sherry Pierce a resident of the City of Doolittle?
That is the question the Doolittle mayor, board of aldermen and concerned residents who attended the meeting tried, but failed, to answer at the May 10 Doolittle Board of Aldermen meeting.
Pierce was absent from the June 10 board of aldermen meeting, so she could not speak on the matter herself.
During the meeting, Mayor Paul Smith raised the issue, saying he wanted to clear it up once and for all.
“We’ve had some time and I have documentation to verify that Sherry Pierce is indeed a resident of the city,” Smith said.
However, many of the meeting’s attendees questioned Smith’s documentation and said the document he showed refers to a Kansas City Police Department policy about residency requirements for police officers there.
Smith conceded that, but said the policy refers to and is based on court cases that define a resident.
“State law regulates us,” Smith said.
“A person may certainly be away from their principal residence for extended times … and to which whenever he is absent has the intention of returning,” Smith read from the document.
“We believe that Sherry Pierce certainly falls into that category,” he said and later read another part of the document, which stated, “Mere presence at a location, no matter how prolonged, will not affect a change of domicile without an intention to make the new place a permanent residence.”
The mayor, while unsure, said he believes Pierce lives in a cabin, but that does not mean she is not a Doolittle resident.
Adam Emery, who attended the meeting, asked, “So we are going to take something from Kansas City over our own city ordinance?”
“No we’re taking Missouri law,” Smith replied. “I’m simply relying on the courts to define further what residency means,” Smith said.
He said personnel serving in the military are still residents of another town even though they may be serving overseas or stationed elsewhere.
Adam Emery said those servicemen and –women cannot serve on a city council at that time, though.
Manon Emery, who also attended the meeting, claimed that Pierce is allegedly using her parent’s address in Doolittle, but that she, herself, does not live there.
Manon Emery then accused the mayor of “trying to brush this under the table and not address the concern of the citizens.” She continued, “We want to see proof that she is a resident of the City of Doolittle.”
Garry Duhadway Sr., who attended the meeting and ran against Pierce in the April 2013 municipal election for the alderman seat, said if Pierce lied about being a resident when she was sworn in as alderwoman, he would go the prosecuting attorney about the matter.
Page 2 of 2 - Smith initially appointed Pierce to the board and she ran for and won elections in 2011 and in 2013.
“If she honestly is a resident, then it would be easy enough for her to present us with a piece of paper, some bills in her name, a deed in her name, a lease in her name … that says this is my house and if she can’t provide that, then there’s something that needs to be investigated further.”
Smith said the board has sufficiently investigated the issue. Smith asked the board to recognize the court actions referred to in the document he provided and to recognize Pierce as resident of Doolittle.
Manon Emery said she has researched the legal definition of a resident and said Smith’s example is not the only definition of a resident.
The five board members present voted in favor of a motion to table a decision on Pierce until the July board meeting and get an opinion by the city attorney. Smith said he was unsure if the city attorney could do that in that amount of time but said he would try to. “His action will be an opinion,” Smith said of the city attorney. “It won’t be a ruling.”