Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Marissa Felon Runs for Mayor; Others Protest Candidacy

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Marissa Felon Runs for Mayor; Others Protest Candidacy

Article excerpt

The village of Marissa at the southern tip of St. Clair County has a bumper crop of mayoral candidates this year - four to be exact.

Although the number of candidates is high for this town of 2,375, the fact drawing the most attention is that one candidate, Gene Triefenbach, makes no bones about being a felon. He says that was 15 years ago and his candidacy is legitimate.

"It was 1982, right after I got out of high school," Triefenbach said Tuesday. "I delivered 15 pounds of cannabis to a Metropolitan Enforcement Group agent." Triefenbach, 33, was fined $4,400 and placed on probation for two years. He says his crime was simply a teen-age blunder, an effort to make a quick buck. "I'm not saying I would refuse to smoke a joint," he said. "I think it was Abraham Lincoln who said, `A man without vices is a man without virtues.' But I've not been arrested or anything, or even so much as been involved in a police report since 1982." Incumbent Mayor Jerry R. Cross, who has been mayor for six years, is not making Triefenbach's criminal history an issue. "I'm staying out of that," he said. But the other candidates, Ervin "Bud" Geralds and Kenneth "Butch" Chandler, filed a protest. It was withdrawn, but Geralds filed a similar protest on his own. He said, "I may not get elected, but I don't want to see a convicted drug dealer elected to office, where the kids in town are jeopardized by him." Geralds added: "It's public knowledge. The man was convicted of a felony. Under the law, as I understand it, he's not allowed to run for public office." Indeed, the Illinois statute on qualifications for elective office says: "A person is not eligible for an elective municipal office if that person . . . has been convicted in any court located in the United States of any infamous crime, bribery, perjury or other felony." But the village election board, made up of Village Clerk Carol Smith and trustees Alan Oyler and David Keim, conducted a hearing on Geralds' protest and cited a different state law that lays out the board's duties. It concluded that those duties are to decide whether a candidate's nominating papers are in order, not his or her background. …

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