On Sept. 3, the Hamilton County Election Board held a public hearing for a complaint filed by Westfield City Council District 5 Republican candidate Mike Johns against District 5 Independent candidate Kate Healey Snedeker.
Johns spoke of several complaints he had against Snedeker, including name discrepancies on her candidate filing forms, her omitting of her employment with the Westfield Washington Schools and City of Westfield and he raised concerns about the validity of several of the signatures on Snedeker’s petition.
Johns called himself a rule follower, which is why he said he was asking the election board to remove Snedeker’s name from the ballot.
“In my opinion, the election process is something near and dear to all of us, it’s what sets our country aside from others,” Johns said. “Election rules exist for a reason and should be followed, and I don’t take filing to run for office very lightly.”
Johns said he’s not sure why Snedeker added the name “Healey” to her candidacy form, other than he speculated it was so her name would appear first alphabetically on the ballot.
David Brooks, an attorney representing Snedeker, disputed the claim.
“You impugn my client’s character by saying she’s trying to confuse the voting public in an attempt to change her alphabetical placement on the ballot,” Brooks said. “Earlier you said you don’t know if that’s the case, and it’s not the case. In a general election, the Republican gets one spot and the Independent gets another spot, but you accuse my client of deliberately attempting to confuse people to achieve a goal.”
In regard to Snedeker’s employment listings on her candidate forms, board member Greg Purvis asked her if her employment with WWS and the City of Westfield equaled more than 33 percent of her annual salary. Statute states if a candidate is employed at a job that makes less than 33 percent of their annual salary, it need not be listed on the form. Snedeker claimed more than 66 percent of her salary comes from her company, Kate Snedeker Communications, which is why she avoided placing her employment with WWS and the City of Westfield on the forms.
“We’ve been over your complaint in a general sense, but it would be fair to say the three areas you are concerned about are the use of different names, omission on some forms and a variety of irregularities on the petition form,” Brooks said. “Based on this, you are asking the election board to remove her from the ballot. Is there a Democrat on the ballot? So, to be clear you want to ask this board to declare you a winner today so you don’t have to actually win a general election, is that right? You certainly won’t have any opposition if the board removes her. Would you be the winner of the election if Kate Healey (Snedeker) is off the ballot?”
“Yes,” Johns said. “But that’s not the reason.”
The board also read statute that said a candidate may use any legal given name, maiden name, nickname, etc. when filing their forms. Snedeker’s maiden name is Healey.
Two concerned Westfield citizens spoke at the hearing, Linda Naas and Barbara Simonson.
“I just think it’s important if someone is running for office, they know how to fill out the forms properly,” Simonson said. “I don’t know if it’s a mistake or trying to jockey around things, but if you cannot fill out the forms, how are you expected to represent the citizens of your city and county?”
During the board’s discussion before a vote was taken, county clerk Kathy Williams said she wouldn’t vote to take Snedeker off the ballot.
“I don’t feel comfortable taking people off the ballot unless there’s an extremely proved, fraudulent reason and I don’t feel we have that,” she said.
The board voted 3-0 to deny Johns’ request of removing Snedeker from the ballot. The general election is Nov. 5. For more, visit hamiltoncounty.in.gov.