Bennett: Terre Haute Ready for Possible Transition

No matter what the Indiana Supreme Court decides in the case against former mayor Kevin Burke, Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett remains confident the city will be ready to transition away from talking about who the rightful occupant of the mayor’s office is.

The Supreme Court has not yet said whether it will hear appeals from lawyers representing Duke Bennett and Kevin Burke, but both sides seem confident the case, and, by extension, control of the city of Terre Haute, will be decided by the state’s most powerful ruling body. Bennett said he is preparing for both the possibility of a special election to re-fill his seat and the possibility he might have to hand over power to someone else when the case is finally concluded. It is a process Bennett hopes will be quick.

“We need to make sure we’re in a position where we can clearly explain the status of the city, especially from a financial perspective,” Bennett said. “If there was a change of power or something that would happen, you can be assured that we would be able to sit down with those folks and bring them up to speed pretty quickly.”

Bennett said one of the most difficult issues, aside from having to pay mounting legal fees from his own pocket and from campaign coffers, is the uncertainty still surrounding the case more than a year after it began.

“We really don’t know exactly what the ruling will be,” he said. “There’s a couple different ways they could go, so we need to be prepared for every scenario, because we need to make sure the government continues to function like it has been.”

Speaking on WFIU’s “Ask the Mayor,” Bennett said he thinks the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear the case within a few months and will, at that time, give lawyers for both sides an indication whether the two previous court rulings provide enough context or whether oral arguments must be made for a third time.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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