Judge suggests special election to resolve county council candidate dispute

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) A hearing took place Friday where Special Judge Craig J. Bobay heard arguments regarding a dispute over the results the November 2016 Allen County general election where an at-large seat to the Allen County Council was won by a candidate who passed away just days before voters went to the polls.

Incumbent Republican Roy Buskirk died on November 4 and Democrats filed a lawsuit alleging his re-election to the seat was null and void and fourth place candidate Palermo Galindo should have been declared victorious.

Among other things, Galinda has contended Buskirk was ineligible to be a candidate, and therefore should not have been on the ballot.

Republicans maintain they followed proper procedure and they subsequently held a caucus where Justin Busch was unanimously chosen to fill Buskirk’s vacant seat.

During Friday’s hearing, Judge Bobay heard arguments from both sides and suggested they agree to a special election because “it’s the only way the will of the people will be known.”

Buskirk received 61,375 votes, however 36,890 of those votes were cast in early voting before his death and 24,485 were cast after his death according to an attorney for the Allen County Board of Elections.

A special election could cost upwards of $250,000 according to Beth Dlug of the election board and that money would have to be appropriated by the county council.

Allen County GOP Chairman Steve Shine told NewsChannel 15 he opposes a special election.

Judge Bobay took the case under advisement and by law has 30 days to rule on it. In the meantime, he scheduled a status hearing for January 18 to see whether his suggestion of a special election could be agreed upon.

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