Marion City Council Member Questions Mayor's Residency
By Forrest Saunders, Reporter
MARION, Iowa - An outgoing Marion city councilor isn't leaving office quietly. He is using his final days to argue the town's mayor actually lives in Hiawatha.
Craig Adamson claims Mayor Allen "Snooks" Bouska is breaking Iowa code by living in a home in Hiawatha, 150 North 19th Ave, instead of his official address at 2040 Agate, in Marion.
Adamson was voted out of office earlier this month and brought up the residency issue during a recent city council meeting.
"What I am questioning is whether he lives in Marion or in Hiawatha," said Adamson.
Bouska's residency was also questioned when he first ran for mayor in 2011. Then, a city panel ruled Bouska's apartment qualified him to run. But now the issue is back, and it matters Adamson because Iowa law requires elected officials be residents of the towns they live in.
"Unfortunately, it's gotten to be a joke with a lot of people. And if I was the mayor, and he really does live in Hiawatha, I'd probably be laughing about it too," said Adamson. "I think it's time to clear this up before the next election cycle."
To get to the bottom of the issue, KCRG met with Mayor Bouska at his Marion property.
"This is the official mayor's residence in Marion, Iowa and this is where I live," said Bouska, standing in the front lawn.
But does he really? The mayor's owned the Agate property since January and said before that he rented apartments in Marion, all the while still owning the home in Hiawatha.
He’s had the Hiawatha property for about 12 years, but you'd never know it looking at his driver's license, which lists the Marion address.
When KCRG asked to see the inside of the Marion property the Mayor only showed us the living room-- but it did hold some furniture, chairs, and a TV.
Mayor Bouska said the Hiawatha property was an investment and that he's in property management owning lots of homes in the area. Although, he said he splits his nights between Hiawatha and Marion.
"These are the only two houses that I would spend the night, if I had to," said Bouska. "I'd say that it's probably 70% in Marion. The only time I'm in Hiawatha is when I have to go home and feed the dog."
KCRG asked state officials whether the Marion mayor was breaking any rules and it sounded like he isn't. Election experts said to be a resident, a person like the mayor only has to have the intent to live in a home-- and intent is almost impossible to define.
"That's a fact based question that has to be asked of the individual," said Iowa Director of Elections Sarah Reisetter. "A person's intention is truly their own."
So by that definition, Marion's mayor meets the law.
"I'm a resident. Put it to bed. It's a done deal," said Bouska.
Perhaps Adamson's concerns are just sour grapes, prompted by his recent ousting. KCRG asked, but Adamson said it was because he no longer has to work with the Mayor.
"When you are trying to work with somebody on a regular basis, you know you're trying not to rock the boat, because ultimately we're trying to do what's best for Marion when we're governing," said Adamson. "We're at a point now where you got to start calling people out. If you don't do that, all you are doing is encouraging additional bad behavior."
Adamson said, for now, he isn't pursuing the residency issue with any higher authorities, just raising the question. And he said if he's wrong he'll quietly let it go.
State officials said there is a way for citizens to challenge an elected official's residency. Twenty-five registered voters would need to file a petition. Then, the city council would hold a public hearing to determine if the elected official is a resident and whether or not they can hold office.
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