INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — An Independence City Council member who was not re-elected this month is now suing, challenging another candidate’s victory after she died days later.
Independence City Councilmember At-Large Karen DeLuccie had just been elected to a third term in the April 5 municipal election.
She died a week later. City leaders said DeLuccie had been diagnosed with lung cancer in February.
Now current Councilmember At-Large Mike Huff has filed a lawsuit over the legitimacy of DeLuccie’s re-election. He’s suing the Jackson County Election Board, City Clerk Rebecca Behrens and DeLuccie’s estate.
According to official Jackson County election results, DeLuccie secured 28.5% of the votes for one of the city’s two At-Large council positions. Jared Fears received 27.8% to take the second At-Large seat. Huff earned 26.4% of the votes. Less than 400 votes separated DeLuccie from Huff.
In his lawsuit, Huff says that DeLuccie learned just after the election that she did not have long to live and died days later.
The suit says the Jackson County Election Board certified election results the day before DeLuccie passed, and the city clerk issued an election certificate to DeLuccie the next day, before she died.
However, Huff argues DeLuccie had become “incapacitated” before results were certified “and was no longer competent to hold public office.” The suit argues the election board should not have certified the results and the clerk should not have issued the election certificate because of DeLuccie’s “incapacity.”
Huff is requesting that the court declare DeLuccie was not a qualified candidate and confirm him as the winner of the second At-Large city council seat.
He cites city charter, which states: “should death, incompetency or removal from city or any other disqualifying condition occur to any successful primary candidate … the surviving candidate shall be declared the winner.”
A hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 3.
FOX4 has reached out to the Jackson County Elections Board and Behrens for comment. We have not heard back at the time of publication.
The Independence City Council announced Thursday it will vote on whether to hold a special election at its April 18 meeting. If approved by the council, a primary would be held Aug. 2 and a general election would be held Nov. 8.
DeLuccie’s funeral mass is planned for next Tuesday at St. Mark’s Catholic Church.