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Community leaders reacted strongly today at efforts to prevent Vandeburgh residents from voting on a Plan of Reorganization this fall. The plan would merge city and county councils, as well as the executive branches. However, taxes, zoning, and law enforcement would remain separate according to current city and county boundaries.
Opponents of the plan filed a complaint filed with the Vanderburgh County Election Board, contending that certain signatures needed to get the referendum on the ballot were invalid. Although the signatures were certified by the County Clerk in late 2009, today’s challenge was filed just months before the election in an apparent act of desperation.
“The opponents of unification do not understand the plan and its obvious benefits to our community,” said County Commissioner Joe Kiefer. He added, “It’s an effort to disenfranchise voters by not allowing citizens of Vanderburgh County a say in this important issue. Additionally, this challenge is an unnecessary expense for tax payers. Let the voters decide this issue on November 6th.”
To trigger the referendum process, state law required the signatures of at least 5 percent of county voters who cast ballots in the 2006 Secretary of State race. Official election results put that number at 2,632.
Roberta Heiman and the organization she now leads, the League of Women Voters, helped gather many of the signatures. “I’m confident that County Clerk Susie Kirk did a thorough job and that we collected the required number of signatures. In fact, we collected many more than were required by the state law.”
Over 3,300 signatures were collected across the community, and after a thorough review, 2,757 were ultimately certified by the Clerk’s Office. Supporters of the Plan of Reorganization have focused their campaign on educating residents on the tremendous opportunities that passage will bring. Said Kiefer, “We’ll continue to work hard communicating with every voter and making sure they have all the facts about how this important initiative will build a better future for each of us.”
Source: Yes for Unification