HOLDEN, Mo. — One small Johnson County, Missouri, city suddenly has a brand new mayor.
On Tuesday, prosecutors ousted Holden Mayor Doyle Weeks, who’d served as that city’s mayor since 2018. Weeks was ordered to step down after an investigation, which was conducted in cooperation with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, showed Weeks had committed an act of nepotism.
Minutes from a city council meeting in April showed Weeks cast a tie-breaking vote, allowing his wife, Elizabeth Weeks, to become the city’s mayor pro tem. Elizabeth Weeks serves on Holden’s city council.
Johnson County Prosecutor Robert Russell said that’s in violation of a Missouri statute that prohibits state officials from showing preference to their relatives. The council’s vote on mayor pro tem was deadlocked beforehand.
In a strange twist, when Doyle Weeks resigned his post on Tuesday, Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Weeks took over as Holden’s mayor.
“You can’t cast votes that would allow a relative to be appointed to an office,” Robert Russell, Johnson County’s prosecutor, told FOX4. “The constitutional prohibition is very, very strict in that it provides for only one outcome, and that’s forfeiture of office as soon as the elected official commits the act that would constitute nepotism.”
One city council member told FOX4 the news of Doyle Weeks’ forced resignation blindsided everyone, and council members were not happy about it.
“This is not something this office desires to do, but it’s an obligation that we have to do, especially when we’re informed of this kind of conduct,” Russell added.
On Tuesday, FOX4 reached out to Doyle Weeks for comment, but our calls were not returned. However, Elizabeth Weeks, the newly appointed mayor, commented that she and her husband didn’t think of this as nepotism since the office of mayor pro tem is voted on by council members instead of the public on Election Day.
“It is what it is. It was a misunderstanding on the council’s part. We’re going to move forward,” Elizabeth Weeks said via phone.
Larry Clarkin, a former Holden city council member, said he expects more from current officials, and he’s not happy with how this affects the city’s image.
“Start having some pride in your work and your town. Do what’s right, not what’s easiest,” Clarkin said, directing his comment toward the current council.
Russell explained this is more common than most people would expect. Holden is home to around 2,400 people and, as Russell pointed out, instances of nepotism are harder for cities without large interest in political service.