Phelps County Prosecutor Brendon Fox filed a petition in court this week to remove Daniel Jones from the Rolla City Council.
He cited Jones’ 2012 guilty plea to a felony charge of cannabis possession as a violation of state law that prohibits convicted felons from holding public office.
The state statute in question reads:
“No person shall qualify as a candidate for elective public office in the state of Missouri who has been found guilty of or pled guilty to a felony under the federal laws of the United States of America or to a felony under the laws of this state or an offense committed in another state that would be considered a felony in this state.”
Jones said the law doesn’t apply to him because he received a suspended sentence, and his record was sealed. He also said he told voters about his plea and subsequent jail time before he was elected.
Jones said the move is politically motivated.
“My plea has been known for years,” Jones said. “And then all of a sudden, we get these complaints, and we get this mechanism happening. You can’t tell me it’s not blowback for everything I’ve tried to accomplish.”
Jones has recently advocated for looser rules on locating medical marijuana facilities in Rolla and asking the city to reduce penalties for possession of pot.
County Prosecutor Brendon Fox said he investigated Jones because of a complaint lodged by a citizen, Tim Cook.
Cook is the recently retired pastor of Greentree Christian Church in Rolla. At Cook’s urging, members of that congregation came out to a recent Rolla City Council meeting in force to oppose more relaxed rules on medical marijuana facilities.
Tim Cook declined to comment for this story.
Jones has 10 days to respond to the petition. At that point, a judge will make a ruling or possibly schedule a hearing. Jones said he will fight to hold onto his seat, and if he is removed, he will try to get the state law overturned, at least as it pertains to marijuana convictions.
“The reality is that this question has to go answered,” Jones said. “There are going to be more people in the future who have dealt with these kinds of pasts, that want to go out and serve their community the best way they can, the same way I have.”
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