Affidavit for the Oath of Office
At the request of the Kentucky League of Cities, the Kentucky Office of Attorney General confirmed KLC’s guidance that city officials may take the oath of office required by KRS 62.010 by virtual means. As support for its analysis, the opinion notes that Chief Justice Minton of the Kentucky Supreme Court was recently sworn in by virtual means for his next term of office. A copy of OAG 20-17 is attached.
The first of the year is fast approaching, and excited returning elected officials and elected officials to be have been contacting KLC as to the specifics of taking the oath of office. Here are the requirements for both the mayor and legislative body in a nutshell:
- Both the mayor and the legislative body must take the oath of office required by KRS 62.010, because this statute states that no officer shall enter upon the duties of their office until they take the oath of office.
- Both the mayor and the legislative body must take the oath of office set forth in Section 228 of the Kentucky Constitution.
- The oath should be taken on or before the day that the term of office begins, or within a reasonable time thereafter if there is a reasonable excuse for delay. KRS 62.010(2).
- For most mayors and legislative body members, this means that those elected to office must take their oath on or before January 1, 2020.
- Lexington and Louisville are exceptions to this rule in that statutes provide that the mayor and legislative body members in these cities must take the oath of office on or before January 4, 2020 – the first Monday of January.
- The mayor’s oath may be administered by any active, retired, or senior status justice or judge of the Court of Justice or active, retired, or senior status federal judge with Kentucky jurisdiction; any member of the General Assembly; or by any county judge/executive, notary public, clerk of court, or justice of the peace within the county. KRS 62.020(1).
- The legislative body’s oath in a home rule-class city may be administered by the mayor. The oath may also be administered by any active, retired, or senior status justice or judge of the court of justice or active, retired, or senior status federal judge with Kentucky jurisdiction; any member of the General Assembly; or by any county judge/executive, notary public, clerk of a court, or justice of the peace within the county. KRS 62.020 (1).
- There is no express requirement under KRS 62.010 that the oath must be administered in person. Several cities have asked if the oath may be administered remotely given the recent spike in COVID-19. There is nothing in the statute that forbids this type of oath administration and KLC has reached out to the Kentucky Attorney General seeking an advisory opinion to confirm this type of oath administration is acceptable.
Finally, we get asked if there is a limit on the number of times a member can take the oath. For instance, a member is sworn privately and later takes part in a ceremonial oath with the other elected members As long as the statutory requirements for the formal oath, detailed above, are met, there is absolutely no issues with taking a later “ceremonial” oath with other elected officials in your county.
KLC also has an affidavit for a city's records as to when the oath was administered. You would be amazed how often someone challenges how an oath was given months and months after the fact.
Please contact Chris Johnson, KLC’s Municipal Law Attorney, if you have any further questions. He can be reached at 859.977.3709.