Two Wayne County candidates have been removed from this fall’s ballot after two other residents submitted challenges to the county’s election board.
The election board, consisting of one Republican, one Democrat and Wayne County Clerk Debbie Berry as a tiebreaker, met Thursday in the voter registration office to hear the two challenges.
Centerville-Abington Community Schools board member Brad Lambright challenged one of his two opponents in the district’s at-large race.
He said he filed a challenge form against Lora Cruse because Indiana code 3-8-1-34 states a candidate must have lived in the school corporation for at least a year before the election. He said Cruse’s home in the 5000 block of Abington Township Line Road is just outside the CACS district.
After looking at the map, neither Chris Beeson, who was serving as the Republican appointee to the board for that meeting, nor Democrat Martha Jones, had any questions for Lambright. Cruse did not attend the meeting.
“It’s pretty clear,” Beeson said, and all three quickly voted in favor of Lambright’s challenge that will remove Cruse’s name from the ballot.
Lambright will face challenger Tiffany Torbeck in the fall.
However, the second challenge took the board more time to evaluate.
Dale Delay, who sells insurance in Centerville, had filed for the District B seat to represent Center Township on the board.
Susan Hamilton, who currently holds that seat, did not file to run for a sixth term.
However, Hamilton filed a challenge after discovering that Delay did not submit 10 qualifying signatures from voters on his candidate paperwork before the noon Aug. 26 deadline.
Each school board candidate must complete a petition of nomination and consent to run for those offices and submit it to their county circuit court clerk. A minimum of 10 required signatures must come from registered voters who live in the same board member district as the nominee.
Lambright had called the voter registration office shortly after the deadline to see how many candidates had filed for Centerville-Abington’s two open seats, and was told that the only candidate for District B had eight qualifying signatures instead of 10.
Hamilton then was surprised to hear Delay’s name announced later as a candidate. After asking for more information about Delay’s paperwork, she said she learned that his final batch of signatures had been filed after 3 p.m. Friday.
Delay had turned in his first set of forms on Thursday afternoon, Berry said.
Berry acknowledged the voter registration staff was shorthanded that week and those working were busy helping the many school board candidates who submitted paperwork in those last days.
A total of 28 candidates filed paperwork to run for school boards across the county, including 10 for Richmond’s two at-large seats.
Berry said staff did not have time to verify that Delay was still lacking valid signatures until Friday, when the courthouse experienced phone issues as part of a widespread regional outage for Frontier customers.
Thus, election staff couldn’t use courthouse phones to notify Delay before the deadline so he could gather more signatures that morning, although some individuals could call in, depending on what phone provider they use. The clerk’s office phones were down until about 1:30 p.m., Berry said.
Delay said he had tried multiple times Friday to call the courthouse, but he couldn’t call in.
Berry said staff always tell candidates to gather extra signatures in case some are not residents of the candidate’s district or are not registered to vote, and the requirements are on the election form.
Jones sympathized with Delay because of the phone issue, putting blame on Frontier for making communication difficult, and voted to uphold his candidacy.
However, Beeson and Berry voted in favor of Hamilton’s challenge.
Despite knowing Delay for many years, considering him a friend and being willing to speak on Delay’s behalf about why he would be a good candidate, Beeson said he had to vote to remove Delay from the ballot.
Beeson said election paperwork has to be submitted on time, regardless of whether phones are working.
“I don’t see where the phones not working are a factor on that,” Beeson said, and Berry concurred.
Hamilton said she filed the challenge because the current school board “has worked so hard to follow all the state rules” and she was concerned about setting a dangerous precedent for future elections.
Delay apologized to the election board for the confusion surrounding his eligibility, and Hamilton thanked him for his support of Centerville schools and welcomed him to apply for the seat through a new process.
Removing Delay’s name from the ballot means the five-member school board will have to request applicants for District B, interview candidates and select one.
The timing of that selection process wasn’t yet clear before deadline for this issue.
Hamilton’s term ends Dec. 31.
Although it was not mentioned during the election board hearing, another prospective candidate had been removed from the list because of a lack of signatures.
The list of candidates shared with local media on Aug. 26 about three hours after the filing deadline included the name of a Wayne County resident who was listed as filing to run for another school district’s board seat.
A few minutes after sharing the list, election official had determined that candidate did not have the minimum number of signatures and did not qualify to run, so his name was not shared in earlier Western Wayne News coverage of who filed for school boards.

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