The board of the Fayette County Soil and Water Conservation District voted Tuesday to replace an elected official who has been ordered to stay away from a former board member and is currently facing stalking charges.
Matt Miniard, who was first elected to the soil and conservation district in 2018, never signed his oath of office, which is required, according to Tuesday’s board meeting minutes.
John Wright, president of the board, said the district asked the state conservation office for a copy of Miniard’s oath of office. The office did not have a signed oath of office, according to the meeting minutes.
State law says elected officials must take an oath of office within 30 days of his or her first day in office. It’s been more than five months since Miniard, who was re-elected in 2022, took office.
“Matt Miniard first proclaimed that he had signed the oath of office, and then said that he never received the oath of the office to sign,” according to the meeting minutes released Tuesday.
Wright, however, said during the meeting they have a recording of Miniard saying he had mailed in his oath to state officials.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Miniard then requested Wright send him an oath for him to sign, according to the minutes.
However, board members made a motion to declare Miniard’s seat vacant, which the board approved. Miniard left the meeting after the vote. The board also accepted the nomination of Mark Coyne to fill Miniard’s vacancy on the board.
The board also cited several attorney general opinions on previous court cases that say an elected official could be removed from office if he or she did not complete their oath of office.
Wright has also previously said the board is pursuing a change in state law to make it easier for elected officials to be removed from conservation boards if there are repeated problems.
Stalking charges, accused of threatening former official
The move comes less than a week after Miniard appeared in court on two different allegations involving threatening behavior.
A Fayette Family Court judge issued an interpersonal protection order against Miniard in May after he allegedly drove by the home of former Fayette County Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor Christopher Rowe. Miniard allegedly threatened to kill Rowe, according to court documents.
Rowe, who resigned from the board in 2022, frequently pushed back against Miniard’s behavior during Rowe’s tenure on the board.
At a June 1 hearing, Judge Tiffany Yahr continued the protection order until July 28. During the hearing, Miniard, who appeared via a telephone call, frequently called Rowe a “nut.”
Later that same day, Miniard pleaded not guilty to a charge of stalking. His next court date on the stalking charge is Thursday.
According to a May 4 arrest citation, Miniard told his tenant “he would shoot him on two separate dates at two different locations.” The tenant alleges Miniard has been trying to evict him by turning off his electricity and removing his belongings from his room, according to court records.
Miniard has also sued the conservation district twice over records and other disputes. Both of those cases were dismissed. Miniard has appealed.
Staff writer Taylor Six contributed to this report.