Rickord files appeal with the state in ballot battle

Staff Writer

Decatur Daily Democrat

    An appeal has been filed with the State of Indiana Election Committee by Daniel Rickord regarding the decision of the Adams County Election Board, who was disqualified Rickord from running for the Democratic seat for the office of Mayor in Decatur.
    County Democratic Chairwoman Barb Engle said Monday that Rickord filed the appeal Friday.
    A midday Aug. 13 public hearing brought an end to Rickord’s run for Decatur’s top spot after Adams County Republican Party Chairman Gerald M. Walker announced the local GOP filed a challenge to his candidacy. In a 2-1 vote of the Adams County Election Board, Rickord was disqualified from running as the Democratic nominee for the mayoral seat. The election board consists of Republicans Jim Voglewede and Wes Kuntzman and Democrat John Minch.
    Rickord was set to run against incumbent Ken Meyer for the city’s top post. Rickord was the former Decatur City Utilities Manager for several years.
    Walker said the challenge rests on the date the declaration of candidacy and chairman’s certification forms were signed.
    “An injustice was done,” Engle said during a phone interview Aug. 14. “It became a political issue.”
    Engle said there were plenty of great supporters at the hearing, many whom are Republicans. According to the appeal, Engle has been chairman of the Adams County Democrat party for more than 10 years. It goes on to state, “she is very knowledgeable of the Indiana Election laws governing the filling of vacancies on general election ballots. She and other party officials were aware of the provisions of Indiana Code 3-13-1-6, that such vacancies could be filled by a caucus of precinct commitment. Aware of authorization requirement, in March 2017, by a majority vote of the Adams County Democrat Committee, a resolution was adopted, ‘authorizing the Adams County Democrat Chairman sole authority to fill early ballot candidate vacancies for local office.’”
    “We filed by July 2, a full day before the deadline,” Engle said, and then went on to explain there is nothing in the Indiana Election Code stating anything has to be in writing by June 30.
    Candidates filing for the May primary had until Feb. 9 to do so. If no candidate files for a particular office, both parties have until noon June 30 to caucus a candidate.
    A caucus is a local meeting where registered members of a political party in a city, town or county gather to vote for its preferred party candidate.
    Once a candidate has been determined by the caucus, the parties then have three days to bring the required paperwork to the clerk’s office, with that deadline being noon on July 3. According to paperwork filed with the clerk’s office, Rickord submitted his candidacy for mayor at 10:13 a.m. July 2, which was more than a full day before the deadline.
    Walker said in an interview at the time of the chllenge, “It was nothing personal nor a political vendetta … For years I’ve gone by the exact date” which was by noon June 30. Walker also said two forms had to be filled
out — CAN-48, which states a candidate is officially running, and CAN-49, which is a form saying the party chairman has named someone with the intent to run. Both forms were marked July 2, according to Walker, and “if both forms would have been dated June 30, everything would have been fine.”
    According to the 2019 Calendar Brochure by the State of Indiana, found at www.in.gov, it is stated, “Sunday, June 30, 2019, DEADLINE, by noon, for the Democratic or Republican Party to select a candidate to fill a vacancy on the municipal election ballot due to a vacancy resulting from no candidate being nominated at a primary … Wednesday, July 3, 2019, DEADLINE, by noon, for the Democratic or Republican Party to file a certificate of selection stating that a vacancy on the municipal election ballot resulting from a vacancy on the primary election ballot has been filled.”
    Rickord is requesting the state reverse the decision of the Adams County Election Board and allow his name to remain on the November ballot.