Rules for Missouri Fire Protection Districts
Parenthetical numbers in the text refer to sections of the current Revised Statutes of Missouri, abbreviated as RSMo.
Fire protection district elections are held on municipal election day, which is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in April. This minimizes costs because election costs are divided proportionally among all entities holding elections on a particular day. The April election has the greatest number of potential ballot issues, with the schools, cities and all districts participating.
Posts to be filled
The only elected officials of a fire protection district are the board members. Everyone else is appointed, including the office staff, fire chief and possibly the secretary and the treasurer. After the original board completes staggered terms so that all members will not come up for election at the same time, terms are for six years. Unlike other subdivisions, if no one files for an open seat; FPDs fill a vacancy by board appointment they do not count write-in names and award the seat to the person who receives the most votes. Write-ins are not possible for FPD board positions because the ballot has no line for them.
A candidate for board member generally must have resided in the district and must have been a registered voter for one year immediately prior to seeking office. Minimum age for board members is 25. The first group of board candidates (when the district is established) files for candidacy with the county, paying $5 to the county treasurer upon filing. Subsequent board candidates file with the fire district secretary, paying a $10 filing fee. Candidates must file a statement testifying that they are qualified to serve if elected.
In 2005, the legislature made persons guilty of a federal felony or misdemeanor ineligible for any state elective public office (115.348). In 2006, the legislature also disqualified persons who owe any tax or who are a past or present corporate officer of any fee office that owes taxes to the state (115.342) and those found guilty of a state felony (115.350)
FPDs are eligible to have a nonelection. This provision allows districts having nonpartisan elections to skip holding an election if the number of candidates who file is no greater than the number of open seats (115.124). When these conditions are met, no election is needed, and the candidates are declared elected without ever appearing on a ballot or any votes being cast.
This provision can cause problems. In one district, a lady thought no one was filing for a board seat that was coming open. Rather than see it blank on the ballot, she filed. Later, when someone who was more serious about the position filed, she offered to drop out. The board, eager to save the costs of an election, offered to reimburse her costs for getting a court order to remove her name. She became suspicious of the board’s motives and changed her mind about withdrawing.