Oklahoma Town Short a Mayor After Arizona Clemency Board Denies Pardon for Weed Hauling and Drive-By Shooting

Almost-mayor and still-convict Christopher Linder
We're not sure which bit of news is worse for the townspeople of Pawnee, Oklahoma -- the fact that the state of Arizona effectively banned their newly elected mayor from taking office or that voters there picked a marijuana-transporting, drive-by-shooting convict as their mayor in the first place.

Call them crazy, but the state of Oklahoma has a law that makes the transition from prison to politician difficult -- 15 years need to pass after the end of a sentence for a convicted felon to serve in public office, or cons can get a pardon to become immediately eligible.

The Associated Press reports that the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency denied Christopher Linder's request for a pardon this morning, leaving Pawnee mayor-less even longer.

Linder 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.

In his abridged recollection of the crime given to KSAZ, Linder says, "There was a drug deal that was supposed to go, and there was counterfeit money involved... shots were fired."

Although he had made his felony conviction public to the 2,200-resident town of Pawnee, Linder still garnered 259 votes in the April mayoral election -- enough for a win in the three-way race.

But Oklahoma still doesn't take too kindly to convicts holding office, and Arizona wasn't about to deviate from its tough-on-crime demeanor.

Now, the seat of Pawnee mayor temporarily goes to its City Council president -- assuming that person doesn't have a rap sheet, too -- and a special election will be held to find someone who hasn't worn a prison jumpsuit to run the place.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley

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