A special judge in Henry County has dismissed a challenge to the New Castle mayor’s election, finding that mayor-elect Greg York is able to become the city’s top executive because he didn’t violate the state’s residency requirement by keeping two homes and splitting where he spent his time.
In a decision Monday, Special Judge Linda Ralu Wolf in Henry Circuit Court upheld York’s election on Nov. 8 and found he can take office at the start of the year. The ruling came about a week after Wolf, a Delaware County judge, heard arguments as to whether York met residency requirements to be mayor because he owned a home just outside the city limits and split his time between that residence and a longtime home on 11th Street inside New Castle.
York obtained 75 percent of the general election vote, securing 2,655 votes compared to the 628 received by John Mark Nipp and 226 received by Debra Baker. Nipp chose to contest the results, arguing that York isn't a city resident and doesn't meet requirements to be mayor.
But the special judge found that Nipp and his attorney, Jeffrey Bell, fell “far short” of meeting the burden of proof to demonstrate York isn’t an eligible city resident. She rejected the idea that voters had “thrown away” their votes by casting a ballot for York on Election Day.
"A more plausible inference from York's overwhelming electoral success is that the voters, having heard the evidence of York's residency in New Castle and the arguments over it, decided that the evidence of York's intent and conduct and his long and deep connections to the community showed that he was a lawful resident of New Castle and eligible to serve as their mayor," Wolf wrote.
Nothing in state law prohibits a person from owning more than one home and having to abandon another residence when they seek public office, she wrote. Evidence shows that York continued paying property taxes, voted using that address, and kept personal belongings at that 11th St. home.
This is one of many election-related challenges that have surfaced statewide in the past year focusing on Indiana’s residency requirement. That has been an issue in the court challenges involving Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White, who faces criminal charges relating to his voter registration at an address where he allegedly didn’t reside. Hamilton Superior Judge Steven Nation on Monday declined to dismiss the criminal case against White, and it continues along with the civil suit challenging White’s ability to hold office as a result of his voter registration information.