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CRIMINAL CONVICTION: Overshadows 6th Ward Columbia City Council campaign

2004 guilty plea nets candidate one year probation
 
COLUMBIA, 3/22/12  (Beat Byte) -- In February 2005, the State of Missouri discharged 6th Ward Columbia City Council candidate Bill Tillotson from a one year probation he served for violating RsMo 192.300, a Class A misdemeanor -- one step below a felony. 

Arrested, charged, and in February 2004, arraigned by Boone County Circuit Court judge Larry Bryson, Mr. Tillotson pled guilty to violating a local law:  a Boone County animal control ordinance.   Why the violation was serious enough to merit such a charge and sentence isn't clear from court filings. 
 
As conditions of his year-long probation, he had to sign a contractual promise with the Court:
 
1.   I will obey all federal and state laws, municipal and county ordinances.  I will report all arrests to the Office of Circuit Clerk.
2.   I will not associate with any person who has been convicted of a felony.
3.   I will not have in my possession or use any controlled substance except as prescribed for me by a licensed medical practitioner.
 
I have read or have had read to me the Order of Probation and the conditions set out therein.  I agree to comply with such conditions during the period of my probation.  Signed:  William Tillotson
 
The court also ordered Mr. Tillotson to pay $111.50 in restitution. 
 
The conviction raises a question that comes up time and again in campaigns.  Civil lawsuits and traffic violations aside -- unless they are unusually serious -- if a candidate has disregarded the law to the point of criminal action, should that candidate be in a position to make laws? 
 
Mr. Tillotson's situation "indicates an attitude toward the law that is more flexible than I would prefer in a candidate," said Jim Muench, a supporter of Mr. Tillotson's opponent, Barbara Hoppe, and former chair of the Shepard Blvd. Neighborhood Association in the 6th Ward. 
 
Mr. Tillotson -- one of this year's Columbia Chamber of Commerce endorsees -- responded to our request for comment in this followup story
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