Judge Pell will hear Vigo County treasurer's race challenge

 Judge Robert Pell of Clay County has voluntarily assumed jurisdiction as special judge in a Vigo County election challenge for the Vigo County treasurer's office.

Judge Lackshmi “Lucky” Reddy appointed Pell of Clay Superior Court to preside as special judge in a hearing, which remains set for 2:30 p.m. Nov. 30 in Vigo County Circuit Court.

On Tuesday, Pell filed an order accepting the appointment.

Reddy is presiding judge for Administrative District 19, which includes Vigo, Clay, Sullivan and Putnam counties.

Current Treasurer Nancy Allsup is contesting the election of election of Josie Swalls-Thompson in the Nov. 3 election, claiming Swalls-Thompson is a resident of Florida, not Vigo County.

Swalls-Thompson, the Republican challenger, defeated Democratic incumbent Allsup by 21,687 votes (51.54%) to 20,392 votes (48.46%).

The challenge was filed No. 12 in Vigo Circuit Court, where Judge Sarah Mullican recused herself.

The Allsup petition challenging Swalls-Thompson's residency includes a copy of property tax information with a homestead exemption for a home owned by Swalls-Thompson in Fort Myers, Florida.

Another exhibit is a 2017 marriage license for Swalls-Thompson stating she is a resident of Florida. The petition also states Swalls-Thompson notified the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles on Oct. 8, 2013, she had moved to Florida.

Swalls-Thompson has issued a statement acknowledging she owns property in Florida, but says she has resided in Vigo County since her marriage in 2017.

Meanwhile, another election challenge in the Vigo County Treasurer's race is set for a Dec. 1 bench trial in Reddy's court.

Current Vigo County Auditor Jim Bramble contends opponent Rebecca Coleman of West Terre Haute was not eligible to run for office due to a previous felony conviction that had not been pardoned, dismissed or expunged.

Coleman defeated Bramble, 22,181 votes to 19,684 votes, for a split of about 53% to 47%.

The Bramble petition includes a copy of the conviction order for Rebecca Reedy, now Rebecca Coleman.

According to state law, if a candidate is removed as ineligible, the office would then be filled by the candidate who received the second highest vote count. In this cast, that is Bramble.

Editor's note: This story was upated at 11:18 a.m. Nov. 24 to include Judge Pelling accepting the appointment. 

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Lisa Trigg has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star since 2009. With more than 30 years of newspaper experience, she now covers general news with a focus on crime and courts.

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