Lake Central referendum complaint doesn't make the grade with elections board

2012-02-23T18:45:00Z 2012-03-31T21:10:39Z Lake Central referendum complaint doesn't make the grade with elections boardBy Bill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com
February 23, 2012 6:45 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | County elections officials dismissed two complaints challenging tactics advocates used to win last year's Lake Central School Corp. referendum.

Richard J. Hucker, of Dyer, and Joe Hero, of St. John, complained that school officials permitted the use of school property and employees to wage their campaign for new school construction.

The Lake County elections board unanimously decided its authority is too limited to regulate the conduct of the contending parties in that debate.

Dyer, St. John and Schererville voters gave school officials permission to raise taxes for a major renovation of Lake Central High School in St. John and construction of a new Protsman Elementary School in Dyer.

Jeffrey F. Gunning, an attorney for the elections board, suggested Hucker and Hero take their complaints to a criminal or civil court.

Hero argued the elections board has jurisdiction over the matter. Both he and Hucker filed amended complaints early Thursday alleging pro-building advocates failed to report the use of school resources in campaign finance documents.

Elections board members said they will take up that new issue in a future hearing.

Lake Central school officials didn't comment on the new allegations.

Elections officials also dismissed unrelated complaints dating from last year's general election in Lake Station, Lowell and East Chicago.

Omega Lazur had filed a complaint that Lake Station City Councilmen Todd Lara, Rick Long and Todd Rogers illegally used their public meeting last fall to urge those in attendance to vote a straight Democratic party ticket in last year's general election.

Long replied Thursday they did nothing wrong.

"We are a Democratic city. Everyone in office is a registered Democrat," Long said.

The elections board split along party lines, with the Democratic majority voting to dismiss Lazur's complaint.

Lowell Town Councilman Edgar Corns, a Republican, complained his defeated Democratic opponent David Gard and the south County Democratic Precinct Organization distributed fliers last year falsely labeling Corns a part-time town resident because he vacations for a month in Florida.

County Clerk Mike Brown, an elections board member, said Lowell Democrats were just exercising their right to free speech. The board unanimously rejected Corns' complaint.

Arthur Santos Sr., the Republican East Chicago mayoral candidate last year, asked the elections board to investigate Democrats who threatened his family with violence during last year's campaign.

Board members told Santos to take his complaint to police and the prosecutor since the dispute appears to be a criminal law matter.

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