Chris Linder runs for mayor

Chris Linder, 33, won the Pawnee mayor's election. He has two felony convictions in Arizona.

A man running for Pawnee mayor was convicted of a felony drive by shooting and attempt to commit marijuana transport in Arizona, but he says he expects to have a pardon by the time voters go to polls.

“I chose to get in that vehicle, chose to go to Phoenix, chose to make the decisions that I made as an adult at that particular time,” Christopher Linder, 33, said Monday.

Linder pleaded guilty to his charges in Maricopa County in 2000 and was sentenced to spend seven years in prison. He served five years and was released in 2005, prison records show.

According to an Oklahoma state statute, people convicted of felonies or misdemeanor embezzlement may not run for political office unless they have a pardon from the governor. Linder said Monday he’s waiting on a pardon from Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.

The Pawnee mayoral election is April 5. Linder is running against Alford Majors and incumbent Tom Briggs.

Linder’s charges stemmed from a drug deal gone bad on Aug. 11, 1999.

“Everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong,” he said.

He was 20 at the time.

Linder said he drove three men to a location in Phoenix to sell some other men 20 pounds of marijuana. After the men in the cars exchanged the drugs and what Linder thought was about $22,000, the other car left. Then people in Linder’s car discovered they received counterfeit money. Linder sped after them. They started to shoot at his car, and people in his car fired back, Linder said. Linder said he did not fire a weapon. No one was hurt, he said.

He was arrested that day.

The three other men in his car were also charged with crimes, and the men in the other car were charged, also.

Police records confirming this account could not be obtained from the Phoenix police in time for this article. The Maricopa Court Clerk’s Office does not have a document narrating his crimes, according to a representative in the Maricopa County District Attorney’s Office.

Linder was also charged with felony possession or use of a weapon in a drug offense and possession of a dangerous drug. Those charges were dropped when he pleaded guilty to felony drive by shooting and attempt to commit marijuana transport.

Linder said marijuana is the only illegal drug he has used, and he doesn’t use it anymore.

During his time in prison, Linder helped fight a massive wildfire that swept across Arizona, he said. He also took and helped teach drug and alcohol treatment programs in prison and took college courses.

Linder served two years in the U.S. Army before committing the crime and going to prison, he said.

Linder, his wife, Christine, and their two children, Olivia and Tyler, moved to Pawnee in 2009. Pawnee is Christine's hometown.

Linder opened the Pawnee Cafe later that year. He’s a member of the executive board of the Pawnee Chamber of Commerce and the United Community Action Head Start Policy Council. He’s also active in the First Baptist Church of Pawnee.

Linder said he’s not proud of his past, but he’s not ashamed.

“My past has many failures and successes and I am positive my future holds many more of each,” Linder said. “I choose to look toward the future and respect my past for what it is — what has existed or has happened at some earlier time.”

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