Two months after announcing his candidacy for mayor, John Fritz withdrew from the race Tuesday, after failing to be certified by the city clerk's office.
According to Missouri state statute 115.346, no candidates may be certified if they are in arrears for unpaid city taxes or municipal user fees. Candidates have until the last day of filing — Jan. 21 this year — to pay any outstanding fees, but Fritz did not do so in time.
“I am the only one to blame for this error and I'm embarrassed by my ignorance,” Fritz said in a statement. “The only explanation I will offer is since the state of Missouri has allowed for three-year licensing of motor vehicles I've acquired a selfish habit of getting around to paying my property taxes just prior to the license renewal for my vehicle.”
Fritz told the Democrat on Tuesday he owed $17.10 in municipal taxes and that he was “deeply sorry” to the citizens of Sedalia, his friends and family for the oversight.
“I realize this demonstrates very poor judgment and I admit this choice of behavior does not align with the character that the people of Sedalia deserve in a candidate for mayor,” Fritz said.
After being notified by the city clerk about the issue, Fritz did pay his outstanding taxes on Monday, but because he did not do so by the last day of filing, he will not appear on the ballot. The mayoral race will now be down to two candidates, City Council Ward 1 incumbent Steve Galliher and former Sedalia Mayor Allen Hawkins. Fritz wished the candidates well and expressed his regret over the error.
“I think owning up to the error and being honest about it was the right thing to do,” Fritz told the Democrat. “I'm genuinely sorry for my actions. This is an embarrassing day.”