Election board dismisses complaint over Huffer signs

One of Tyler Huffer's campaign signs is seen along North Detroit Street. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.
By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — Kosciusko County’s Election Board on Friday dismissed a complaint over the use of the phrase “re-elect” that appears on Tyler Huffer’s campaign signs for county coroner.

Huffer was appointed by a Republican Caucus to replace Tony Ciriello in 2022.

Julia Goon, also a Republican, filed the complaint, suggesting the use of the term “re-elect” implied he had already been elected. She contends the caucus appointed Huffer.

Austin Rovenstine, a Republican who sits on the election board, pointed out that the use of the term on a campaign sign becomes a First Amendment argument and that it could have easily led to a court fight.

Rovenstine said afterward that there was no statutory basis for the complaint.

“The legislature never specifically said election boards are allowed to sanction someone when they do something like this,” Rovenstine said.

He added, “In the absence of a statutory basis, I just think that’s political speech — sort of a reasonable debate on both sides whether he was elected or appointed or what constitutes an election and the government would have no business in sanctioning someone for political speech.”

“I was pretty confident if we had done that, we would have been overturned on appeal,” he said.

The decision came after a 3-0 vote by the board on the matter.

Huffer faces Tracy Cutler-Wilson in the May 7 primary.

Afterward, Huffer issued the following statement:

“I would like to extend my gratitude to Julia Goon for exercising her right to express her concerns before the election board. It is my belief that her concerns have been duly addressed in accordance with the pertinent state statutes.

Looking ahead, Huffer said it was his earnest intention to conduct his campaign “with unwavering professionalism, transparency, and integrity.”

“Today’s experience has underscored the privilege of living in a remarkable country where our freedoms are cherished,” he said.