New judge to be assigned to election case

No agreement on appointing a special judge had been reached as of Friday afternoon by both parties in an election challenge for the Vigo County treasurer's office, according to a notice filed Thursday in the case.

So the challenge by current Treasurer Nancy Allsup to the the election of Josie Swalls-Thompson now waits for a judge to be assigned by Judge Lakshmi “Lucky” Reddy.

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

On Tuesday, Judge Michael Rader reviewed and granted a change of venue filed by Swalls-Thompson, the Republican challenger who defeated Democratic incumbent Allsup by 21,687 votes (51.54%) to 20,392 votes (48.46%) in the Nov. 3 election.

Allsup is contesting the election of Swalls-Thompson, claiming Swalls-Thompson is a resident of Florida, not Vigo County.

The challenge was filed last week in Vigo Circuit Court, where Judge Sarah Mullican recused herself and Rader received the appointment as special judge. Soon after, the request for the venue change was filed.

In his order, Rader gave Allsup and Swalls-Thompson seven days to agree on whom to appoint as special judge. If an agreement is reached, the judge will have seven days to accept or reject the case.

If an agreement is not reached, the case will be assigned to the next available judge in the district, the order says.

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.

A Nov. 30 hearing is already set in the case.

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.

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