Some Lawrence lawmakers are demanding the outgoing mayor step aside and want a protective order for a police K-9 at the center of a nasty campaign dispute.
Mayor Paul Ricketts, a Republican, was beaten Tuesday by Democratic challenger Dean Jessup.
Health issues surrounded Ricketts' run after he underwent heart valve surgery in March and had to use a wheelchair due to an ulcer on his foot.
But Ricketts blamed his defeat, in party, on a grassroots political fight over a police dog,
"I did have that one police lieutenant out there telling lies about his dog," Ricketts told RTV6 Tuesday night.
The signs in question implored Ricketts to return the K-9, Yank, to his original handler, Lt. Stan Stephens, a Republican City Council member and frequent critic of the mayor.
Officials took Stephens' dog away when they appointed him shift commander because authorities said they wanted his full attention on his new position, but Stephens said he was being retaliated against by Ricketts' office.
Now City Council President Donald Poteat and Councilor Dave Parnell, both Republicans, are seeking a protective order to ensure the dog's safety.
"Our concern is that the dog is city property, and we just want to see that it's taken care of and that nothing happens to the dog," Poteat said.
"I just don't know if they would put that dog down just out of spite," Parnell said. "I wouldn't put anything past him (Ricketts)."
Ricketts issued a statement denying allegations his administration would hurt the dog.
"The safety of the police dog is not in jeopardy other than the normal dangers experienced by all police officers in the normal course of police work," the statement read.
Still, Poteat, Parnell and Councilor Linda Treat, one of three Democrats on the Council, are demanding that Ricketts step aside for the remainder of his term.
They cite the mayor's health issues and frequent absences from City Hall. They also accuse Ricketts of refusing to enforce some city codes, including a towing ordinance that was passed two years ago.
"We've been beaten up pretty well by this administration," said Treat, who was re-elected to her second term. "I would hope that he would be concerned enough to turn it over to the council president and let him continue for the few weeks remaining."
Ricketts also answered calls to resign in his statement, saying he has "no intention of stepping aside for the rest of the year."
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