You can be mayor of Wallace, even if your home is someplace else.
That conclusion, by Wallace’s city attorney, has some citizens scratching their heads.
In September, Mayor Debbie Mikesell moved from Wallace to a $67,000 home in Silverton, an unincorporated area about two miles away.
Now, some residents are calling for Her Honor’s resignation.
“If she wants to be an ambassador of our town, she should live there,” said carpenter John Ruggles. “Coeur d’Alene’s mayor lives in Coeur d’Alene. Spokane’s mayor lives in Spokane. That’s part and parcel of the nature of representative government.”
In tax documents filed with the county assessor’s office in November, Mikesell declared her Silverton home to be her primary residence.
Critics say the mayor, by residing outside the town she is sworn to serve, isn’t necessarily living under the laws she helps enact.
Mikesell turned for advice to city attorney Hollis Anderson, who concluded that where the mayor lives depends on more than just the location of her home.
Since Mikesell runs a Wallace mortuary, gets mail in town and has her vehicle registered there, she can be considered a legal resident, Anderson decided.
The same criteria applies to any elected city official in Wallace.
Mikesell did not return phone calls to her office and home Monday.
The flap in Wallace isn’t all that unusual, said Deni Hoehne of the Association of Idaho Cities.
“This happens,” she said. “This is one of the areas where the laws regarding city issues are fairly vague.”
For lack of any court cases to clarify the law, the association sides with Anderson.
“It’s just one of those vagaries of the law that an attorney is free to interpret,” she said.