Elections

Oklahoma Mayor Sworn in Despite Arizona Felony Convictions for Drive-by Shooting and Slangin' Weed

Like many states, Oklahoma makes the transition from prisoner to politician pretty difficult, and a person convicted of a felony is not permitted to hold public office -- but that's not stopping Pawnee, Oklahoma's Mayor-elect Chris Linder.

Linder was sworn in yesterday, despite the felonious blemish on his criminal record.  He was released from an Arizona prison in 2005, after serving five years for attempting to transport marijuana and taking part in a drive-by shooting.

Linder made voters aware of his conviction and still managed to get 253 votes in Pawnee's April mayoral election -- enough for a win in the three-way race.

However, because of his conviction, he was given 30 days to prove his qualifications to be mayor via-a pardon from the state of Arizona.

Linder petitioned the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency for a pardon earlier this month, but his request was denied, making him ineligible to be mayor of the tiny, 2,200-person Oklahoma town.

His attorneys, according to the Tulsa World, researched Oklahoma's law about felons holding office and found several conflicting opinions on it.

Although he was sworn in as mayor, Linder says he's not doing any mayoral activities and will wait for the outcome of a Monday night special City Council meeting, at which his qualifications for the job will be discussed.

If the City Council finds Linder's felony conviction prevents him from being mayor, he plans to take his case to court.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
James King
Contact: James King