Granados off ballot, still pushing for justiceAugust 21, 2020
By CANDY NEAL
Mikayla Granados is no longer running for Dubois County Council, but she will stay involved in issues that affect the people.
“I will do everything I can to speak on issues that matter: the justice center, the Mid-States [Corridor], the loss of jobs in this area,” she said after Thursday morning’s hearing to remove her from the General Election ballot. “This is not the end.”
Granados will continue to be vice chairperson of the Dubois County Democratic Party. She will also continue her college studies, and plans to apply for law school in December. “I still plan to stick with the justice system,” she said.
Granados filed papers Wednesday afternoon to withdraw from the ballot and her attorney, J. Russell Sipes, filed a motion Wednesday evening to dismiss the challenge. At Thursday’s hearing, Dubois Superior Judge Mark McConnell ordered County Clerk Amy Kippenbrock to remove Granados' name and dismissed the case.
Granados’ candidacy was challenged by Dubois County Republican Chairman Mark Messmer because she has on her record a felony from 2019.
Messmer said he was satisfied with the outcome. “She did file the removal paperwork herself. I thank her for that,” he said. “She should have done this herself once it was clear that she was ineligible to run. But she did it now. I wish her the best. I have no hard feelings against her.”
Granados was running to fill one of the three Dubois County Council seats on this year’s ballot. Indiana law says a person who has a felony does not qualify to run for office. However, there is no process in place for checking a person’s candidacy when a person files.
Mike Kendall, chairman of the Dubois County Democratic Party, has consistently said that the law itself is not evenly enforced.
“One of things I realized was that everyone in the community, better than I did, had knowledge of all these people in office who also had multiple run-ins with the law because of alcohol and reckless driving and speeding,” he said. “I think that's why they see it as an injustice. Because what they see is somebody who's going to have it reduced to a misdemeanor, and she can't be in office.”
Messmer challenges that assessment.
“I’ve heard that claim but they have never produced a single person as an example, or produced a single situation where that is true,” he said. “So I discount that argument.”
Kendall said that the law, as it is currently written, is not fair.
“The law is so poorly written, and so bad that it's creating this serious injustice,” he said. “The law is unjust. And what happened to Mikayla is a very bad injustice.”
Messmer said he would not be opposed to studying how the law could be changed to have someone, like the clerk, be responsible for checking a candidate’s legal record.
“I haven't considered it,” he said. “But I wouldn't be opposed to looking at it, going into the session.”
There would be various facets to consider in the study, Messmer said. “I’m not sure if there's a felony in another state whether the clerk has access to those records,” he said as an example. “If they were a felon in Indiana, but that is under another name, I don't know how difficult that would be to confirm.
“But that would be worth pursuing,"
This ordeal is the reason why Granados decided to pursue a law degree.
“This isn’t unique to me. I’m temporarily a felon,” she said. “For 1.12 million Hoosiers, they don’t get the option to remove their felony record. And I want them to have that representation, or be able to represent their situations.
“So this is not the end.”
Since Granados has withdrawn, the Democratic Party has 30 days to file a candidate to replace her on the ballot. Kippenbrock hopes that it will be much sooner than that.
“If they respond before 30 days, that would be beneficial to all involved.”
Her office must start mailing out absentee ballots no later than Sept. 19. For the 400-plus applications she has already received, those must be mailed no later than Sept. 19.
The ballot has to be designed, proofread by the county election board, sent out with any corrections, and sent back to the clerk’s office in digital form. That tends to be a two-week process, Kippenbrock said.
Kendall expects to fill the vacancy within the next two weeks. He said that many in the community have been very supportive of Granados. And several has reached out to him about filing for the open spot.
“What Mikayla has done, and what this injustice has done is brought out of the woodwork three people in less than 24 hours,” Kendall said. “They’re not party Democrats, not partisan type people, but people who are interested in issues. They want to try to rectify injustice. And where it begins right here.”
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