The Porter County
Election Board decided 3-0 on Tuesday that Jeff Good made a harmless error
when he wrote “Center” on his candidacy declaration form for what County
Commissioner District he intends to run for.
Harmless enough to
keep his name on the ballot for the May 6 primary elections, that is.
form was the basis for a challenge made by his primary election opponent
William LaFever who argued that Good labeled his district incorrectly.
The correct method
was to write it is as Commissioner District 2, LaFever said, just as he and
incumbent Republican Nancy Adams did.
In supporting his
claim, LaFever presented the board with copies of the election results from
the 2012 primary and general elections that showed the Commissioner
Districts that year were called District 1 South and District 3 South,
copies of other counties’ election results that refer to their Commissioner
district by number, a copy of the County’s Voter Registration webpage on the
County’s website that named the race as County Commissioner District 2,
copies of the County Democrats’ and County Republicans’ websites that also
call it District 2 and a copy of a news article detailing Porter County
Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper’s 2010 decision to remove a Union Twp.
Trustee candidate from a ballot due to an error.
“It is the
candidate’s job to file the paperwork correctly,” LaFever said.
He said that
nowhere in the evidence provided does it refer to a Center District
“There is no Center
District,” he said.
In his defense,
Good said that on the Commissioners page on the Porter County website it
identifies Nancy Adams as the Center District Commissioner. He said that in
the County garage there is a parking space with a sign that said the spot is
reserved for the Center District Commissioner.
Good said he also
sees in local news reports, Commissioners are identified as representing the
north, center and south districts.
“Maybe I’m guilty
of reading the newspaper too much,” Good said.
Good said his forms
were accepted by the Voters Registration Office and he was not informed of
any errors. He said there should not be any confusion about what race he is
running in since there is just one Commissioner race this year.
“There is no
mystery here,” he said, calling LaFever’s challenge “petty.”
Good also tried to
refute LaFever’s argument regarding Judge Harper’s ruling saying it was an
irrelevant since it dealt with signing a candidate form in front of a
notary. LaFever said it is relevant however because the issue is about
paperwork that is not filled out in a proper and timely matter.
Ethan Lowe said he found the challenge “unique” since challenges are usually
made on the basis of party affiliation or residency.
From what research
he did prior to the meeting, Lowe said he found several County documents
that refer to the office as Center District Commissioner as well as District
2 Commissioner, such as on past ballots. He said it was up to the board as
to whether Good committed a fatal or harmless error.
LaFever asked if
Lowe found it anywhere in the County Code that refers to the establishment
of three Commissioner districts.
“The real question
is what is in the county ordinances. That’s what’s real and binding,”
Lowe said he did
not have the ordinance with him.
member J.J. Stankiewicz said he was appreciative LaFever made the challenge
because it forces the board to stay sharp. He said that he would vote
against the challenge, however, because he didn’t feel Good’s form would
cause an upheaval in the outcome of the election.
Board president and
Republican member David Bengs said he did not see the error as being fatal,
but an error nonetheless.
“If you want to
call it sloppy, that’s accurate and that’s fine,” he said.
After the meeting,
LaFever asked the board members to check the County ordinances to find what
it says about a District 2 Commissioner. He said he is considering filing an
appeal of the board’s decision with the added argument that the board met
without giving the proper 48-hour notice.
He said the meeting
agenda was revised last Friday and with the weekend and President’s Day
being a holiday, the board should have met Wednesday.
Commissioner races, no matter what district, are voted for on a countywide
In other business,
the board voted unanimously on administratively dissolving five campaign
committees that have been inactive or delinquent for a number of years.
The board tabled
the matter on Jan. 31 allowing the five committees more time to dissolve or
None of the five
made contact, Lowe said. An election board can dissolve the committees on
two conditions Ð the committee must not currently be making expenditures or
collecting donations and there must not be any amounts of cash on hand or
debts reported of over $1,000.
The five committees
dissolved were from Republicans Todd Martin, Lorri Wickberg, Joe
Clinkenbeard, Gregg Frame and Democrat Kelly Teel.