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Booted from primary ballot, candidate returns with cleared record, independent bid in Lafayette
Plus, as talk about pumping water near the Wabash for state’s LEAP District, Lafayette looks to drill test wells. And city adding solar arrays to help power wastewater operations
Thanks to the Long Center for the Performing Arts for sponsoring today’s edition. Long Center’s summer series at Loeb Stadium includes: Taylor Swift Laser Dance Party (Thursday, July 27); Air Supply (Friday, July 28), and Scotty McCreery (Thursday, Aug. 17). Tickets on sale now, at www.longpac.org, the Long Center box office at 111 N. Sixth St. or by calling 765-742-5664.
BOOTED FROM PRIMARY BALLOT, CANDIDATE RETURNS WITH CLEARED RECORD, INDEPENDENT BID
Last seen in the vicinity of the Tippecanoe County election office, Derek Reuter had just been pulled from the May 2023 primary ballot because of a felony conviction from 2005, telling the chair of the county Democratic Party that she’d “made an enemy today.”
On Monday, Reuter filed paperwork to run as an independent for one of three at-large seats on the Lafayette City Council – the same race he’d filed to run in as a Democrat earlier this year.
As of Tuesday, county election staff were verifying the nearly 500 signatures Reuter turned in when he filed to be an independent candidate. Election staff indicated he needed a little more than half of those to be from registered voters in Lafayette to qualify.
The deadline to get on the November municipal ballot is noon Monday, July 3, for major party candidates and noon Friday, June 30, for independent candidates.
Reuter said a judge in Allen County expunged his record earlier in June, clearing him to run for office.
During a hearing in February, Reuter told the three-member Tippecanoe County Election Board that he hadn’t bothered with his record because he considered the felony conviction for marijuana possession a badge of honor – and a test of employers, so he could avoid working for someone who called out what he considered should have been legal, anyway. The conviction involved a pair of marijuana possession cases that stemmed from traffic stops. He said the first was when he was 21 years old. After a second charge, in 2004, Reuter pleaded guilty in January 2005 to a D felony count of possession, getting 1½ years on probation and a suspended driver’s license for 180 days.
Jacque Chosnek, Tippecanoe County Democratic Party chair, had raised the issue with the election board, challenging his candidacy based on an Indiana law that prohibits someone with a felony conviction from being a candidate. Reuter called Chosnek’s challenge protection for the three Democratic incumbents – Kevin Klinker, Nancy Nargi and Steve Snyder – and for Democratic Mayor Tony Roswarski’s “rubber stamp crowd.” (Chosnek denied those accusations.)
The board voted unanimously to remove Reuter from the ballot.
“My motivation has shifted, in the sense that, now as an Independent, I can leave party politics behind and focus on the needs of all residents and play the outsider role, which is more attuned to my nature as an idiosyncratic writer and frontline activist that I've been throughout life,” Reuter said this week.
Reuter – whose candidate filing listed his occupation as electrical and lights for productions and as a writer for assorted media and entertainment companies – said he’d focus his campaign on raising the income of residents, addressing the scarcity of housing, inflating rent, questionable landlords and developing a skate park.
Democrats and Republicans each have scheduled caucuses to slate candidates in open slots on municipal ballots ahead of Monday’s deadline.
Democrats: Chosnek said Democrats will meet Wednesday to slate Lori Sabol for West Lafayette city judge, a position she holds now. Democrats also will look to fill an open slot for the West Lafayette City Council District 1 seat now held by Democrat Nick DeBoer, who is not running for re-election.
Republicans: Tracy Brown, Tippecanoe County Republican Party chair, said Republicans will caucus Saturday. “We obviously want to fill as many ballot positions as we can,” Brown said Tuesday. “We are focusing on council races in Lafayette and West Lafayette.”
The ballots, so far: Here’s how ballots shape up, after Tuesday’s primary, in West Lafayette and Lafayette ahead of the noon Monday deadline for parties to slate candidates and the noon Friday deadline for independent candidates to file. (Incumbents noted with an asterisk.)
Mayor: Tony Roswarski*, D; Benji Milanowski, Libertarian
Clerk: Cindy Murray*, D.
Council District 1: Jerry Reynolds*, R.
Council District 2: Eileen Hession Weiss*, D; Mary Fisher, R.
Council District 3: Perry Brown*, D.
Council District 4: Lauren Ahlersmeyer*, D; Josiah Eller, Libertarian
Council District 5: Melissa Weast Williamson*, D.
Council District 6: Bob Downing*, D; Perry Barbee, R
Council at-large (3): Kevin Klinker*, D; Nancy Nargi*, D; Steve Snyder*, D; Derek Reuter, independent (pending certification of his filing)
Mayor: Erin Easter, D.
Clerk: Sana Booker*, D.
City Judge: Lori Sabol*, D (expected to be slated Wednesday)
Council District 1: Aaron Abell, R.
Council District 2: Michelle Dennis, D.
Council District 3: Colin Lee*, D.
Council District 4: Larry Leverenz*, D.
Council District 5: Kathy Parker*, D; James Waters, R.
Council District 6: Jeff Brown*, R; Stacey Baitinger Burr, D.
Council at-large (3): James Blanco*, D; Iris O’Donnell Bellisario, D; David Sanders*, D.
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LAFAYETTE STARTS TESTING POTENTIAL WELL SITES
From the Timing is Everything File: Lafayette on Tuesday signed a contract to dig test wells on three properties on two sides of the city.
Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski said the work wasn’t necessarily prompted by controversial state overtures to pump tens of millions of gallons of water each day from the Wabash River aquifer in Tippecanoe County and send it via pipeline to the LEAP District, a 9,000-acre mega development 35 miles away near Lebanon.
Instead, Roswarski said, the test sites were aimed at housing growth expected southwest of the city and industrial land being prepped across Indiana 38 from the Subaru of Indiana Automotive plant, among others.
“We’re near our capacity,” Roswarski told members of the Lafayette board of works.
The board agreed to a $210,740 contract with Ortman Drilling to test drill wells at three sites, including on either side of Creasy Lane, just west of Veterans Memorial Parkway, on the east side of the city; and property near Veterans Memorial Parkway and U.S. 231, on the southern edge of the city.
Steve Moore, Lafayette Water Works superintendent, said the test drilling would check for quantity and quality of the water available at each site.
Roswarski said Lafayette’s wellfields have a 22 million gallon daily capacity, with an average usage of 11 million gallons a day. He said the city has had recent peak usage of 17 million gallons a day.
“It’s all part of an overall water masterplan we’ve been talking about,” Roswarski said. “We need to sustain what we have and make sure we can grow.”
Speaking of the LEAP project: In case you missed it, here’s coverage of a Monday evening forum that covered what’s known and what’s not known about the Indiana Economic Development Corp.’s plan to pump as much as 100 millions gallons of water a day from southwestern Tippecanoe County to feed a burgeoning industrial site in Boone County: “Wary Tippecanoe Co. eyes state plan to ship local water to massive LEAP District.”
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LAFAYETTE’S WASTEWATER OPERATIONS ADDING TWO SOLAR POWER ARRAYS
Lafayette Renew, the city’s wastewater treatment department, will install two solar arrays to help power the city’s treatment plant and one of its lift stations, according to bids accepted Tuesday.
The first will be a roughly 810 kilowatt array that is expected to offset 22% of the electricity needed to operate the wastewater treatment plant on Wabash Avenue. The other will be a 220 kilowatt array that will offset 33% of the energy needed to run a lift station on Ross Road, near the Ivy Tech Community College campus.
The projects will cost $3.9 million, as designed by the firm Greeley and Hanson, according to the contract. Brad Talley, Lafayette Renew superintendent, said the city expects to receive at least 30% of that cost from federal funds. He said federal money could wind up paying for 50% of the project.
Talley said the city expects energy savings to cover the cost of the project in 12 to 14 years, and faster if the federal money is more than 30%.
Work is expected to be done in December 2024.
Lafayette Renew has another solar array at its Pearl River lift station, just south of the bridges into downtown Lafayette. That array generats 390 kilowatts, covering 90% of the electricity needs at that lift station, Talley said. He said that the three arrays, combined, produce enough energy to power 240 homes for a year.
OTHER READS …
Indiana Capital Chronicle reporter Leslie Bonilla-Muñiz had details about Indiana’s stake in federal money to expand broadband service: “Indiana to receive $868 million in federal ‘internet for all’ program.”
The Indianapolis Star had this unsettling entrée: “Robots are serving customers at these Indianapolis restaurants”
The smoke in Lafayette’s air Tuesday was hard to miss. Here’s an explainer from New York Times reporter Julie Bosman, reporting from Chicago: “Smoky Air From Canadian Wildfires Blankets Midwestern Skies.”
Thanks, again, to the Long Center for the Performing Arts for sponsorship help with today’s issue. For a rundown of shows at Long Center and Loeb Stadium, go to www.longpac.org.
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