VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — A petition challenging one of the Vigo County School Board races has been filed in Vigo County Court.
According to court documents, Carey Labella has filed a petition to contest the election in her race against Eric Graves, who won the District 1 seat. In her petition, Labella claims that Graves filed for his candidacy while residing outside District 1.
Labella submitted Graves’ petition of nomination for the election as evidence, which lists Graves’ address as being on Timberlane Turn in Terre Haute.
According to a map of school board districts, that address would be a part of District 4.
The District 1 race was between only Labella and Graves, with Graves unofficially winning by 3,081 votes.
Labella’s petition also claims that the constitution of Indiana states that a candidate running for a school board office in an election district that consists of less than the entire school corporation, must have resided in the election district for at least one year before the election.
The summons issued for Graves lists two addresses, the one on Timberlane that Graves filed under, but also lists an address located in Heritage Trail Apartments, which is inside District 1.
Labella’s petition asks that as the only other candidate in the race, she be declared the top vote getter for the District 1 seat. The petition also asks the court to keep the Vigo County Election Board from certifying the results of this race until the petition can be addressed on its merits.
On November 9, Labella’s campaign Facebook page mentioned meeting with legal counsel to determine the legal steps needed to contest Grave’s eligibility. While Graves’ campaign Facebook page listed the reasons they believe Graves’ win should stand.
When reached for comment regarding the petition and the race, Graves stated he had “No comment, I’ve spoken enough on the matter.” Attorney Chris Gamble, who represents Labella in the petition, explained that up next, Mr. Graves will have the ability to either agree with the facts presented in the petition or dispute them. Once that decision is made it would determine if a fact-finding hearing would be held.
Gamble also pointed to a recent case in the state where a similar situation occurred, he said in that case, the court found that candidate residency was a substantial element of eligibility.
According to court documents, Vigo County Judge Sarah K. Mullican, on November 16, issued an order, to recuse herself as Judge in the matter, citing a conflict of interest.