Image via Insider Louisville
BY MARTA SUBAT
LOUISVILLE (INFOSURHOY)--A city council member in Louisville fired back at calls for his resignation on Wednesday after critics demanded that he resign as he pursues political office in his native Nigeria — nearly 6,000 miles away.
“Please stop being obsessed with me,” Louisville Metro Councilman Vitalis Lanshima said.
Lanshima is facing scrutiny from other council members, who want an investigation into whether his bid for Nigeria’s Federal House of Representatives violates Kentucky state law and makes him ineligible to continue serving as a city official.
He lashed out against his colleagues, whom he called “sore losers or sore winners,” and claimed the criticism surrounding him was a “manufactured crisis.”
“There are many things for us to worry about in Louisville. … We do not have to be obsessed with me,” Lanshima told reporters during a news conference, the Courier-Journal reported. “Please stop being obsessed with me.”
But even fellow Democrats aren’t convinced whether Lanshima should be left off the hook. Democratic Councilwoman Cindi Fowler said Lanshima’s behavior raises questions on whether his constituents are being represented on the council, especially since Lanshima skipped 20 council meetings since mid-June.
Democratic spokesman Tony Hyatt told the Courier-Journal on Tuesday that Lanshima hasn’t attended a meeting since Aug. 14.
“I want him to be present and engaged within the community that he’s representing,” Fowler told the newspaper in response to Lanshima’s claims that he’s being targeted. “I’m not pointing my finger, so much as I’m saying, ‘Do the right thing.’ That’s all.”
But while Lanshima was missing meetings and running for office in Nigeria, he was still earning a salary. So far he has earned nearly $40,000 this year.
The embattled councilman was selected rather than elected to represent the district after a previous councilman was ousted from his seat amid sexual misconduct allegations.
Lanshima tried to cling to the seat, but he was defeated by a fellow Democrat in the party’s primary election. He will have to vacate the seat to the winner of the election in November.
But many local lawmakers became concerned after Lanshima registered to vote in Nigeria and announced his run for office there, as this could be a violation of Kentucky laws.
According to the laws, members of local government councils must be a “a qualified voter, and a resident within the territory of the consolidated local government and the district that he or she seeks to represent for at least one (1) year immediately prior to the person’s election.” The council members are also asked to live in his district “throughout the term of office.”
It’s unclear if registering to vote in another country revoked Lanshima’s “qualified voter” status in the country and the council will review the documents to determine that.