Challenge fails; Porter County commissioner candidate remains on primary ballot
BY AMY LAVALLEY Post-Tribune correspondent February 18, 2014 7:36PM
Updated: February 19, 2014 2:03AM
VALPARAISO — Republican Jeff Good made a harmless error — but not a fatal one —when he filed to run for the Center District seat on the Porter County Board of Commissioners instead of the District 2 seat.
That was the determination Tuesday of the Porter County Election Board, which ruled that Good can move forward with his candidacy and threw out a challenge by fellow Republican candidate William LaFever.
LaFever argued Good should be tossed from the ballot because he filed for an office that does not exist. He challenged board attorney Ethan Lowe to come up with the county ordinance creating the three districts, which Lowe couldn’t do.
He said after the hearing he may appeal in court, because the board hasn’t been able to provide him with a copy of that ordinance, and because he believes the board violated the state’s Open Door Law by not providing 48 hours notice of the meeting because of Presidents Day.
Notice of the meeting went out to the media Thursday evening. The agenda was revised midday Friday to reflect LaFever’s challenge.
But Lowe and members of the election board found several examples, including the county website and past ballots, where the districts were referred to as North, South and Center, sometimes in conjunction with their district numbers.
“This is a unique challenge,” Lowe said, adding candidacy challenges usually come about because of party affiliation or residency.
Because only one commissioner’s seat is up for election this year, it was clear which office Good was running for, Lowe said.
“The question really becomes whether this is a harmless error or fatal,” he said, adding the determination would have been more difficult if additional districts were involved in the election. “From a legal perspective, I see this as a harmless error.”
Good said no one from the Voter Registration Office or the Clerk’s Office, both of which received his paperwork, said anything about the error.
He was relieved to remain on the ballot.
“Now I can start working on my campaign,” he said.
Both men face incumbent Nancy Adams in the May primary.
The winner there competes with Democrat Sylvia Graham, an at-large member of the County Council, in November.
In other business, the board voted to place a referendum for the Boone Township schools in Hebron on the May ballot.
Lowe said he was awaiting final decision from the Indiana State Election Board to go ahead with the election, but has been advised that decision would most likely be in the school district’s favor.
At issue is a new state statute that took effect over the summer, dictating a 365-day time frame between referendum elections. Because of this year’s calendar, the first Tuesday in May is only 364 days from the schools’ last referendum, which fell short by four votes out of 1,090 ballots cast.
School attorney Tara Tauber said the district is on a tight timeframe to meet the necessary deadlines to get the measure on the May ballot, though it could wait until November if the state says no.
“This is something they truly need to maintain operation of their school corporation,” she said.