The Journal Gazette
Friday, August 09, 2019 11:40 am

Adams GOP challenges Decatur mayoral opponent's candidacy

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

The Adams County Republican Party is challenging the candidacy of Daniel Rickord, the Democratic nominee for mayor of Decatur.

The county election board has scheduled a hearing on the matter at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Adams County Courthouse in Decatur.

County GOP Chairman Gerald Walker filed the challenge, claiming that Rickord is ineligible because he and the Adams County Democratic Party did not meet the state's July 30 deadline for filling ballot vacancies for the Nov. 5 general election.

Walker wrote in his challenge that Rickord's declaration of candidacy and the Democratic Party's certification of candidate selection were not submitted to the county clerk until July 2. He provided copies of the declaration and the certification with his challenge.

But instructions on the certification form state that it must be filed by noon July 3, the same date contained in the state's candidate guide for 2019. Instructions on the declaration of candidacy provide the deadline for running in a party caucus but are silent on the direct appointment of a candidate by a party or its chairman.

Democratic Party Chairwoman Barb Engle told The Journal Gazette that she and Rickord on June 27 or 28 made the decision for him to fill the ballot vacancy for mayor and filed the paperwork the day before the deadline for doing so.

"I think we're within the guidelines. We'll see," Engle said.

The election board, which consists of two Republicans and a Democrat, can sustain Walker's challenge and declare Rickord ineligible to run, reject the challenge or take no action and leave Rickord's name on the ballot. If Rickord remains the Democratic nominee, he will challenge  Republican Mayor Kenneth Meyer in the general election.

"The question will be what exactly constitutes the appointment of a candidate," Walker said in an email. "The caucus method and appointment by chairman method have equal outcomes and should be arrived at under an equal time table. We are left with, what is the actual declaration of a candidacy, and what is the official selection of a candidate? Is it a decision made by two individuals or is it a verifiable paper trail?

Walker did not challenge the fact that Rickord's declaration of candidacy is for the 2015 election. That year is printed at the top of his candidacy form, and the general information portion that he filled out refers to "the municipal election to be held on November 3, 2015."

"Those were the forms that the election person sent me. ... It was the ones they provided," Engle said about the county clerk's office.

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