Dems threaten lawsuit over County Council seat

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The dispute over who should take Roy Buskirk’s seat on Allen County Council continues. The leader of the local Democratic party said he’ll take legal action if the Election Board doesn’t declare Palermo Galindo candidate the winner.

Palermo Galindo (Photo Courtesy: Facebook)
Palermo Galindo (Photo Courtesy: Facebook)

Voting results from the Allen County Election Board showed the top three candidates as republicans Eric Tippmann, Robert Armstrong, and the late Roy Buskirk.

Buskirk died the Nov. 4, four days before Election Day. Republicans said Buskirk won fair and square but Democrats said once he died, under the law he was no longer a candidate. It’s a decision that could likely end up in the courts.

“We stand here today calling that the election board would fulfill its duty and certify that the top three valid candidates from the election are the winners,” said Jack Morris, who’s the chair of the Allen County Democratic Party.

The Monday before Election Day the Allen County Election Board decided not to change the ballot. The board said because of Buskirk’s death falling so close to the election the board was not mandated to do anything.

Tom Hardin, the republican appointee to the board, said the top three vote-getters would be certified the winner. Democratic appointee Tim Pape disagreed and said they cannot certify the votes.

On Wednesday, Galindo issued a statement which said attorneys who reviewed the issue told him he should be certified as the winner.

“I was proud to be a candidate for Allen County Council At-Large, Galindo said in a statement. “I assert I won one of the three seats by finishing in the top three of valid candidates. To assure I was proceeding in accordance with Indiana law I had the facts of this case and the applicable law reviewed by legal counsel. The attorneys have confirmed I should be certified as having won a seat of the County Council.”

Head of the Allen County GOP said he’s confident the Election Board will stand by their decision.

“I am very confident,” he said. “I believe the law and the facts are on our side. Thousands of people voted for Roy Buskirk and the Republican Party before Roy Buskirk’s death.”

Morris stood alongside Galindo during a news conference Thursday. Galindo said if the Allen County Election Board does not certify him as the winner he will pursue legal options.

“I am mindful my election is by virtue of the unfortunate death of Roy Buskirk,” Galindo said. “I was saddened to hear of Mr. Buskirk’s death and it is bittersweet that my opportunity to serve arises from the loss of such a true public servant. However, I consider it an honor to step in his place and pledge to give the same dedication to service and commitment to the people of Allen County as he demonstrated.”

If Galindo is awarded the seat, he would only be the second democrat to join the council. Councilwoman Sharon Tucker (D-1st) was elected to the council in 2014.

Allen County Republicans are expected to hold a caucus Nov. 30 to pick a replacement for Buskirk.