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Terre Haute Waiting To See Who Mayor Will Be

Last updated on Friday, November 14, 2008

(UNDATED) - The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett was ineligible to take office in January.

Former Terre Haute Mayor Kevin Burke, who lost to Bennett in last year's election had argued that since Bennett's previous employer received federal funds, the Federal Hatch Act prohibits Bennett from running.

The court has agreed and ruled the office vacant. But the court also says Burke is not entitled to inherit his old post, as he claimed, because voters weren't aware of Bennett's ineligibility at the time of the election.

Since Terre Haute has no deputy mayor, state law says the position falls to City Controller Leslie Ellis until a special election can be held.

But Indianapolis lawyer Lawrence Reuben, who helped oversee a countywide recount for Burke, argues Ellis is ineligible too because Bennett appointed her.

A secretary with the mayor's office says Bennett is still mayor and will file an appeal with the Indiana Supreme Court.

Reuben says he'd advise Bennett to leave office at least until such time as the state's highest court grants a stay, which would allow Bennett to remain in power until the court can hear arguments.

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