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Candidate's Win In Disputed Electric Co-Op Election Stands

Update April 14, 2017, 9:30 a.m.

Three new faces are joining the board at the Utilities District of Western Indiana.

More than a thousand people voted in Saturday's election. UDWI customers had the highest electricity rate in the state last year.

David Burger, Todd Carpenter and John Royal ran as the “change” candidates against incumbents Jack Knust, Jim Weimer and David Stone.

Three petitions were filed challenging Carpenter's win over 27 year board member Jim Weimer. After investigating, the voting committee determined Thursday night that Carpenter's win stands.

Carpenter told us Friday morning he received an email notifying him.

The new board meets for the first time April 27.

Original Post April 12, 2017

At least one person, as-yet unidentified, is contesting the results of the UDWI board of directors election.

The co-op held its annual meeting Saturday. Hundreds of people attended to vote for candidates for three open board seats.

All three incumbents lost their races, although exact vote totals have not been released.

The new members, David Burger, Todd Carpenter and John Royal ran as the “change” candidates. UDWI customers had the highest electricity rate in the state last year.

Burger defeated incumbent Jack Knust in District 1. Todd Carpenter won against Board President Jim Weimer in District 2. John Royal defeated David Stone in District 4.

After the votes were tallied, UDWI notified Todd Carpenter that his victory was being challenged.

According to a statement posted on the co-op’s website from CEO Brian Sparks, the objections concerned a candidate (whom we know to be Carpenter) and his “ability to run.”

In order to run for election a person has to collect at least 50 signatures from people living in the district.

Sparks says someone other than Carpenter collected most of the signatures Carpenter needed to get on the ballot.

Sparks declined to name the person who gathered the signatures. Sparks says the person gathered the signatures “under a false pretense,” and did it by “telling people they were signing the petition to get a rate decrease.”

The voting committee met once already this week and is continuing to investigate. Sparks says the committee will meet again Thursday.

The bylaws state: “…the committee by vote of the majority of those present and voting, shall, within a reasonable period of time, but less than thirty (30) days after the hearing, render a decision, the results of which may be to affirm the election, to change the outcome, or set it aside.”

While it could take up to 30 days for a decision, Sparks says he hopes that doesn’t’ happen, calling the situation stressful.

It could be a moot point because Jim Weimer, who had served for 27 years on the board, submitted a letter to the election committee Sunday withdrawing his candidacy. He says it’s his opinion that the election is over and the results are in.

Sparks stresses that Todd Carpenter is “purely innocent” in this situation and that the election protest has nothing to do with Carpenter as a candidate.

Once the voting committee makes a decision it will be final.

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