Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gary school board candidate says election was 'a fraud'

Gary school board candidate says election was 'a fraud'

July 23, 2008Recommend

By John Byrne Post-Tribune staff writer

CROWN POINT -- A failed candidate for the Gary School Board testified Tuesday that a Democratic Party conspiracy carried his opponent to victory.
Testifying as part of his lawsuit seeking a new election, L'Sana Djahspora said high-ranking Gary Democrats should have known they violated state law by including Darren Washington's name on an endorsement slate widely distributed to voters outside the polls May 6.

"The resources of the organization went into perpetrating what I believe is a fraud," Djahspora told Lake County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Arredondo.

Washington won the at-large school board seat by more than 12,900 votes over Djahspora, out of 27,000 votes cast.

Djahspora's suit contends the election is void because Washington's inclusion on the "Gary Democratic Slate" broke a law that school board elections be non-partisan.

Days before the election, the Lake County Election Board ordered the slates not be distributed with Washington's name on them, but Djahspora said he found poll workers passing them out at several polling places on election day.

"It was citywide. It was evident physically across the city," Djahspora said. "It was evident at every level of the (Democratic) organization."

But during the four-day trial, Gary Mayor Rudy Clay testified that he designed the slate, not the Democratic apparatus.

And Washington's attorney, Tony Walker, argued that lots of prominent Democrats backed Washington, but there was no organized design by the party to get his client elected.

"If I called 250 friends and said 'Thank you for supporting L'Sana, now let's spread out across the city to work for him,' would that be partisan?" Walker asked.

"I'm not sure," Djahspora responded.

"What if I was an elected official and I did these things?" Walker asked.

"Possibly," Djahspora said.

Attorneys now have until Aug. 29 to present their written closing arguments to Arredondo.

~There is no way that Rudy Clay or others that were on the slate didn't know what they were doing... #1 it was proven illegal and the fact they were passing these out to high schoolers was a big concern of mine...maybe that is the reason that Darren Washington won... maybe they should have put all the people running for the school board on the slate... that is my opinion... I think it probably should be a re-election... but then again... just having that name recognition now really might all that Darren Washington needs to win it again... it is great to win...but only if you win fair and square... I think because his name stayed on the ballot then, then he should have to forfeit his seat... Just my Opinion!

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