Plans to run for office in Nigeria could disqualify Louisville metro councilman

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Nicole George is tired of what's unfolding in Louisville's Metro Council District 21.

George, a Democrat, is going door-to-door in search of the votes to be the district's next member of council. But right now, there's drama in the district yet again.

"Our district is looking forward to some stability and to be able to put energy into positive things," she said Tuesday night as she canvassed homes in Lynnview with campaign brochures in her hands.

"When it comes to the current councilman, where is he?" WDRB's Chad Mills asked George.

"I wouldn't know," she answered. "What I do know is I'm out in the community every day, and I hear from lots of residents. People are concerned. They want to know they're being represented downtown."

Members of Metro Council say Councilman Vitalis Lanshima has missed 20 meetings since June 21. Lanshima lost the primary earlier this year to George but still has a few months left to serve.

On Tuesday, WDRB News tried multiple numbers for Lanshima and even tried to find him at his home address but was unable to make contact with the councilman.

After having similar luck in contacting Lanshima on Tuesday night, a Metro Council committee made Lanshima's whereabouts its business.

"We know that Councilman Lanshima has not only not attended a lot of meetings since May but has not been in the building much since May," Councilman Bill Hollander said.

But more concerning to council is a website that seems to show Lanshima's running for a different office roughly 6,000 miles away in Nigeria. An online Nigerian database shows a "Vitalis A. Lanshima" with the same date of birth registered to vote there this past July.

"State law prohibits an elected official to be a voting member elsewhere, so it brings concerns that Councilman Lanshima is, in fact, in violation of state law," Councilwoman Cindi Fowler said during the Tuesday night meeting. "I just really would like to open the investigation and have open discussion on what we feel like needs to be done."

After a few minutes of discussion, Metro Council President David James potentially delayed that investigation when he grabbed his phone to call Lanshima's assistant directly and managed to put the meeting on recess until 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, when Lanshima will purportedly be at the meeting to answer questions.

"We have questions that we can't answer ourselves," James said. "We have to have him to get those questions answered."

Bret Shultz, a Republican who's also running for Lanshima's seat, will be there too.

"This isn't a part-time job," he said. "When you're running a district, it's like running a business. You have to be there seven days a week, 24 hours a day. You have to be able to represent your people."

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