The following press release was sent to the Bloomingtonian Thursday by the Monroe County Republican Party:
|“***MEDIA ALERT ***|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: William Ellis
November 18, 2021 [email protected]
TRIAL COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF CHAIRMAN ELLIS, INSTALLS ANDREW GUENTHER ON BLOOMINGTON PLAN COMMISSION BLOOMINGTON, IN —
Monroe County Republican Party Chairman William Ellis dealt a blow to Mayor John Hamilton and the City of Bloomington today, as Special Judge Erik Allen of Greene County ruled in favor of Ellis & his appointee to the Bloomington Plan Commission, Andrew Guenther. Ellis had appointed Guenther back on April 16, 2020, after Mayor Hamilton had left the vacant seat open for more than the statutorily permissible 90-days. Amendments to Indiana Code 36-1-8-10 by State Representative Jeff Ellington (R-Bloomfield) gave Ellis the authority to make the appointment, Judge Allen ruled. “This is one of the reasons I’m in the Statehouse; to make sure local governments follow the law and to make laws to close loopholes when those local governments fail to act in the best interest of citizens.”
In the course of approving Ellis’ writ of quo warranto against Chris Cockerham, the illegal appointment made by Mayor Hamilton, Judge Allen ruled that Hamilton’s previous appointment of Nick Kappas was also void, as Kappas lacked a political party affiliation as mandated under I.C. 36-1-8-10, clearing the way for Ellis to appoint Guenther.
Andrew Guenther, previous Chairman of the Bloomington Environmental Commission and previous Republican candidate for Bloomington City Council, will assume his seat at the December meeting of the Bloomington Plan Commission, per Judge Allen’s ruling. “I look forward to serving my community and making Bloomington a better place to live for all residents,” Guenther said following the ruling. “Together, we will build a better Bloomington for the world of tomorrow.”
“This is a historic first appointment under the new law that Representative Ellington passed, to address the inaction on local elected officials to make timely appointments, and we had full confidence during this court battle that we were in the right,” said Chairman Ellis on Thursday afternoon. “The Monroe County Republican Party will always stand up for enforcing the laws of the great State of Indiana, even when it is difficult. Today’s ruling is a victory for all those who believe in the rule of law, and proves that no one – not even Mayor Hamilton – is above the laws of our land. We are excited to once again have a legitimate Plan Commission in Bloomington.”
When asked for comment, Attorney Carl Lamb stated that “he was very pleased with the ruling. The ruling was based upon “joint stipulations by the parties,” with Special Judge Allen arriving at a fair and impartial determination pursuant to the laws in the State of Indiana. Lamb commented that “he hopes that the parties will move forward in an ethical and civil manner, which will allow the citizens of Bloomington and Monroe County to have proper legal representation on the City of Bloomington Plan Commission. Further, Lamb stated that “the parties were given a fair opportunity to present their respective arguments, both factually and legally, to Special Judge Allen. Judge Allen has ruled. Now is the time for the parties to follow the law and set aside political differences in the best interests of the local community.”
The Bloomington Plan Commission now has a full slate of mayoral appointees with an appropriate partisan balance. These appointees include O’Neill Professor Beth Cate (D), Jillian Kinzie (D), Karin St. John (D), former City Councilmember Brad Wisler (R), and Andrew Guenther (R). Other appointees to the Plan Commission include Flavia Burrell (Board of Public Works), Andrew Cibor (City Engineer), City Councilmember Susan Sandberg (D At-Large), Israel Herrera (Parks & Recreation), and non-voting member Trohn Enright-Randolph (County Surveyor).
The City of Bloomington is expected to appeal the ruling to the Indiana Court of Appeals, which would be the second time the City appealed this case to the higher court. The previous time, when the City attempted to have Guenther & Ellis’ case thrown out of court, resulted in victory for Guenther and Ellis. Guenther & Ellis are represented by Bloomington attorney Carl Lamb, current candidate for judge.”