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Milltown voters deserve choice

My Opinion
Chris Adams, Clarion News Editor

It appears that Milltown residents will not have a say in selecting their new clerk-treasurer this fall, and that’s a shame.
Nothing against Susan Roy, the Republican candidate for whom the November general election is now just a formality, but elections are supposed to be about choices, and, because of a botched Democrat town convention, the people of Milltown won’t have a choice.
The problem occurred Aug. 20 when town Democrats gathered to decide their nominee, as both Ashley Hudson-Pitman, the daughter of two-term Milltown Councilman Curt Hudson, and former clerk Linda Pevlor filed as Democrats.
As outlined by Indiana law, Crawford County Democrat Party chair Jerry Brewer selected a resident of the town to oversee the convention as its chair. He appointed Bill Byrd.
Byrd was an excellent choice. He has probably been to more county commissioners’ and council meetings in the past several years than any other Crawford County resident. He also served on a committee a few years ago that helped the county get back on solid financial footing. He also has been heavily involved with the town, including being a mainstay at its council meetings.
The town convention should have been a slam-dunk. Gather at the town hall, open up voting and then count the ballots. With only two candidates, things couldn’t get too messy.
With no prescribed amount of time that the convention must be open, Byrd closed the voting after about 90 minutes, some 30 minutes after the last ballot was cast. Unfortunately, that was on an even number ‘ 50 ‘ and, when the votes were counted, the unthinkable occurred. It was a 25-25 tie.
Still, there should not have been a problem. According to the 2011 Indiana Town Election Guidebook, published by the Indiana Election Division, the convention chairman must ‘propose convention rules for adoption by the town convention voters,’ including a ‘method for resolving tie votes.’
Yet, the Milltown convention didn’t have a pre-determined way to break a tie. Stan Pennington, who served as the convention’s secretary, contacted the Indiana Election Commission last week, but, with Aug. 20 being the deadline for conventions, there wasn’t a resolution available.
In other words, Milltown Democrats are out of luck.
Again, this isn’t any disrespect to Roy, but elections are about candidates sharing their visions for an office and voters then getting their say on whom they believe would be the best person for the job.
That is important in any election, but it is even more important in the Milltown clerk-treasurer’s race as the office has been scrutinized by the State Board of Accounts and the town currently cannot apply for grants because of problems with the office.
The current clerk decided not to seek a second term, but, in order to ensure that the next person to hold that position is capable of getting the town back on solid footing with the SBA, voters should be able to put candidates to the test and make them earn the voters’ trust.
The voters can still ask questions, but, with only one candidate on the ballot, they hold no leverage. Perhaps, after a spirited campaign, Milltown residents would have determined that Roy is the best candidate, but it is a shame they won’t have that opportunity.