Election board to consider candidate challenge

Bartholomew County’s Election Board will hear a formal written challenge against the candidacy of former Democrat-turned-Republican Chris Rutan, who is seeking a District 1 Columbus City Council seat in May’s primary.

The challenge was filed with the election board on Feb. 8 by William Tapscott, 1036 Chestnut St.

Tapscott is asking the election board to determine Rutan’s eligibility to challenge incumbent Republican Dascal Bunch in the May primary. The board will consider the challenge at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Voter Registration office of the Bartholomew County Courthouse.

The challenge deals with Rutan’s actions as a property manager for an elderly Bartholomew County woman from 2011 through 2014. Rutan said he denies the allegations made by Tapscott.

Rutan and Tapscott have been involved in community watch activities in separate groups. Rutan has long been associated with a Community Neighborhood Watch program in Columbus while Tapscott began coordinating a similar program in the Taylorsville area since 2014.

While Indiana does allow an individual to file a candidate challenge as Tapscott filed, the election board is only responsible for following election law, Bartholomew County Clerk Jay Phelps said.

That means all the election board can legally do is confirm that Rutan is older than 18, has never been convicted of a felony, and is in good standing with the GOP.

Although Rutan had long been a Democrat prior to this filing, Phelps said records show he had voted Republican in recent primaries, so he can’t be challenged on party standing.

While Phelps told Tapscott it is difficult to find validity in his challenge argument, Tapscott said he still wanted to move ahead with the challenge before the board, the clerk said.

“Although this is much like one of those ‘he said — she said’ situations, the election board is still required to meet to discuss this,” Phelps said.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Christopher Rutan” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Name: Chris Rutan

Party: Republican

Occupation: Property manager/owner, CST Properties

Education: GED

Previous elected offices held (and when): None

Previous elected offices sought (and when): Columbus Township Advisory Board, 2010; City Council, District 1, 2011; Columbus Township trustee, 2014

Community involvement: Ninth Street Neighborhood Watch leader; Ninth Street Park Community Festival organizer

Immediate family: Dallas Stout, stepson