Less than a month after the U.S. District Court of Eastern Arkansas declined to rule on the case regarding an initiated ordinance to reduce the number of wards and city council members in Helena-West Helena, the issue has returned to Phillips County Circuit Court.

Less than a month after the U.S. District Court of Eastern Arkansas declined to rule on the case regarding an initiated ordinance to reduce the number of wards and city council members in Helena-West Helena, the issue has returned to Phillips County Circuit Court.

Last Thursday (Sept. 21) attorney James Valley filed a petition for a temporary restraining order, declaratory judgment, a writ of mandamus to declare the proposed map for redistricting valid and other relief. The petition was filed on behalf of Elijah Mondy, Larry Evans and Linda Winston Harris.

Named as defendants in the litigation were Mayor Jay Hollowell and the current 10 members of the Helena-West Helena City Council.

The city filed a motion to dismiss the case. Mondy had requested the U.S. District Court of Eastern Arkansas to deny the city's request to dismiss the case. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Judge J. Leon Holmes declared that Mondy failed to establish his claim that the matter fell under federal law. He ruled that the issues entertained in the complaint are state court issues and not a federal matter.

Holmes dismissed the case without prejudice.

The case dates back to September 2016 when Mondy submitted a petition with the required number of signatures for the initiated ordinance to be placed on the November 2016 general election ballot. Voters approved the ordinance by an overwhelming 62 percent of the vote.

At the December meeting of the city council, the ordinance was repealed with an emergency clause allowing the action to take effect immediately.

In the latest petition, the plaintiffs are requesting the court to declare the council's ordinance repealing the ordinance as invalid because of an inappropriate emergency clause and that it was never officially published in accordance with state law. It also seeks to have the ordinance voted on by the people declared valid in full force and effect.

Other relief sought in the petition includes: declaring the redistricting map submitted as the map on which future city elections are conducted; and to force city officials to comply with the ordinance.

An expedited hearing is also requested regarding the case.