RI Supreme Court Denies Dual Office Holder

Today, acting Chief Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg issued an opinion of the RI Supreme Court in Felkner v. Chariho School Committee (Flaherty not participating) that held that noted RI conservative, William Felkner, cannot hold the the offices of member of the Chariho Regional School Committee and member of the Hopkinton Town Council at the same time.  The court ruled that by accepting the office of member of the town council while concurrantly serving on the School Committee, Felkner ipso facto resigned his office as member of the Chariho Regional School Committee.

This is a petition in equity in the nature of quo warranto. William Felkner (Felkner or petitioner) brings this action in quo warranto, seeking a determination by the Supreme Court that he rightfully has retained the title of school committee member of the Chariho Regional School Committee despite also having taken the oath of office as councilman for the Town of Hopkinton. This case came before the Supreme Court for oral argument on March 9, 2009; Felkner advanced the argument that he lawfully can hold both positions simultaneously. After considering Felkner’s contentions, we conclude that upon assuming the position of town councilman for the Town of Hopkinton, Felkner, in effect, resigned his seat on the Chariho Regional School Committee. We reach this conclusion because multiple officeholding specifically is prohibited by the Hopkinton Town Charter. As well, we decide that the simultaneous holding of these two positions violates the long-recognized common-law doctrine of incompatibility.

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