Had City Solicitor Guy Ayres been available a week ago when a five-member City Council majority voted to declare Phillip Ufholz ineligible to run for council, the results probably would have been different.
Obviously, the five council members who agreed that Ufholz was not a resident did so based on their poltical preferences rather than on the law.
That’s why Ayres made short work of the similar attempt Tuesday to banish Joe Hall to the political wilderness and make the election easier for the candidates the majority preferred.
It is Ayres’ job, after all, to keep city government out of court, particularly when it is likely to lose.
A quick search of the Internet, which anyone on the council could have done, shows why:
Maryland Court of Appeals, 1998 – “The two most significant objective factors evidencing a person’s intent regarding domicile are where the person lives and where he or she votes or is registered to vote.”
Maryland Court of Appeals, 1974 – “Where a person lives and votes at the same place such place probably will be determined to constitute his domicile.”
Ufholz covered those requirements, but the council looked instead in all the wrong places to justify the decision it wanted to make.
The same thing might have happened Tuesday were it not for Ayres’ efforts to protect the council from itself.
The shame is that the mayor and the council majority thought less about the law and more about their own objectives.
That includes Council President Lloyd Martin, who should not have participated (although legally permitted to do so) considering that he was rejecting a would-be opponent.
But on Tuesday, Ayres kept the council straight.