Washington County’s Democratic Party Chairperson Darlene Briscoe held a press conference Monday morning, alleging Justin Green, the Republican Candidate for Mayor doesn’t live in the Salem City Limits, despite him owning a home on Tucker Street in Salem.
“I think the big question is, does he really live there. I don’t buy it. I don’t think he lives there,” Briscoe said during a press conference in which only WSLM attended.
The building in question is located at 509 East Tucker street.
Green, who has owned the property for the past 3 years, calls it home.
Briscoe noted that the property card lists “minimal amenities” and that the structure is “classified as a pole barn.”
“It has, according to this, electricity,” noted Briscoe. “Practically nothing else as far as ammenities that one would expect if you’re going to live in a place. He has a property outside the city limits [that] is a nice big homestead worth almost $300,000. I simply don’t buy that he lives in the pole barn, when he has this nice property, although it is outside the city limits, which would disqualify him [from holding a city office]”
Briscoe posed the question based on information she was given from a male candidate running against Green in the Spring primary.
“Where does he actually live? Do you think he lives in the pole barn or the house with 4 bedrooms and all the amenities we would expect in a house,” questioned Briscoe.
When asked who gave her the information that brought Green’s residency into question, Briscoe refused to divulge who it was. She did note that “[I] don’t want to say at this point. I don’t think that person is relevant because he’s not involved in this in any way.”
There were three males running against Green in the primary – Ron Haendiges and Bob Fletcher on the Republican ticket and Richard Longworth on the Democrat ticket.
INSIDE 509 EAST TUCKER STREET
WSLM met with Green this morning at his pole barn-converted home at 509 East Tucker Street and found a very livable and efficient “apartment” where he lives by himself.
After a few minutes admiring the rustic look of the reclaimed metal siding, Green opened the door for a short tour. He showed off a living room, bedroom and a bathroom complete with shower, sink and toilet and a small mudroom leading to the garage.
There’s running water in the kitchen and bathroom and a glass cooktop built into an island.
Green had mail addressed to himself at the 509 East Hackberry Street address on the table.
He has a satellite dish and an LED flat panel tv near his favorite recliner where two remote controls are within arms reach. And a package of cookies on the side table.
There are electric meters (and they’re running) on the side of the house. There is an AC unit and a runinng refrigerator with an ice maker full of ice and food on the inside of the fridge.
“These pole barn conversions are taking off with wild success,” Green said. “The HGTV stations or the do it yourself stations [and the popularity of] turning these pole barns into living quarters have been great projects for a lot of people.”
Green said he got the idea several years ago and “wanted to try it.”
“It turned out wonderful,” he said. “I was able to take some reclaimed metal from the other side to finish the front. It’s an old barn. It’s a 1933 era barn. It has a lot of history and character to it. Before the Pugh’s had it, it was [owned by] Morris Payne Machinery. People remember buying farm equipment here.”
“It just fits perfect for one person,” said Green. “And that’s me. I spend a lot of time here. I have heat and air, water, and electricity. It’s on the city sewer.”
“I know it’s modest,” Green said. “It’s not decorated possibly by some people’s standards. I think it’s pretty nice. I’m trying to be courteous of everyone’s opinions and comments. I know there has been some discussion about ‘he needs to show’ and ‘he needs to prove’ — It’s hard sometimes to understand that a barn can be liveable. So let’s do this and satisfy some folks. It’s fully functioning with utilities.”
GREEN’S PROPERTIES AND RESIDENCY
Briscoe pointed out that although Green owns four properties in Washington County (two in the Salem City Limits and two outside) that because the Tucker Street property didn’t look liveable, then she couldn’t believe that he lived there. “I had to go around the block 3 times to even find that property because it didn’t look like a residence to me. I know pole barns and any buildings can be fixed up inside. I recognize that. If he has proof that he lives at 509 East Tucker. I would hope he comes forward. But I don’t buy it.”
Briscoe noted a property east of town (and outside the district) on about 66 acres with a $300,000 home, that she felt would make a better home and suspected Green actually lives there and not in the voting district of Salem.
“He has a property outside the city limits is a nice big homestead worth almost $300,000. I simply don’t buy that he lives in the pole barn, when he has this nice property, although it is outside the city limits, which would disqualify him,” Briscoe said Monday.
“I own two lots by WSLM, this home and a building lot [on] 3 acres on Old State Road 56 (purchaed in July 2016) that I don’t have any intention of doing anything with. I also own some investment property,” Green said of the 66 acre lot he purchased in October 2012.
“I would like to get it paid for and maybe see a little income off of it someday,” Green said.
He said he mows the property and stores some things there.
“I had an opportunity in 2012 to buy that [the 66.6 acres] and I did. It’s sitting out there. Row crops and storage. I do intend to pay for it someday. At my age, I’d like to get some things tackled before I’m too old to pay for it,” said Green.
Green also owns and operates Green’s Auto Sales on Main Street in Salem and is in a lease agreement to purchase the business property.
Green outlined his political career and residences he’s lived in.
Since 2003, he lived at 106 Macon Avenue, which he purchased from Paulette Miller.
He rain for City Council in 2007 and won his position there, while living at the Macon Avenue residence.
He still lived there when he ran and won re-election in 2011 and in 2015. In fact, Green lived there until he sold the home on June 3, 2016.
Green purchased the Tucker Street house on June 13, 2016 from Norma Pugh.
Having served on the Salem City Council for three terms, Green is no stranger to having his candidacy certified.
In fact, over the past 12 years, his candidacy WAS CERTIFIED in 2007, 2011 and 2015 by Democrat County Clerks Shirley Batt and Rita Martin – neither of whom had any issues with where Green lived.
Now, just 7 weeks and a day prior to the November 5th City Election, the Democrat Party has made an issue of Green’s residence location.
“I’ve been on the Salem City Council for 3 terms. The current Republican clerk says everything was in order,” Green stated.
Stephanie Rockey verified Green was successfully certified in the three previous municipal elections.
“Please take note that on the 2007 and 2011 candidate filings for Justin Green that they are the Certifications in the Statewide Voter Registration System – SVRS for the elections,” wrote in an email today. “I confirmed with previous Clerk Shirley Batt that those paper files were destroyed, due to the retention schedule for candidate files. But, his 2015 candidate filings were still secured here onsite [at the Washington County Justice Center.”
“As far as I am, and our office is concerned, there is no issue with his candidacy,” noted Rockey. “The concerns of the Democratic party were informally brought to my attention and the previous Clerk prior to the Primary. [Justin] Green filed all the appropriate paperwork to run for Mayor and his paperwork was processed and certified according to Indiana Election Division guidelines.
“When the informal allegations were brought to my attention, those parties were advised that they could file a formal complaint with our County Election Board and/or IED. They were in the time frame to actually file a CAN-1, Candidate Filing Challenge, contesting a Declaration of Candidacy,” Rockey noted.
“After that time frame had passed, they were told they could file a civil suit in Circuit Court,” said Rockey.
She said no suit has been filed against Green. Rockey said no formal complaints were ever filed, regarding any subject that was brought up during the recent press conference.
“To clarify, there is also a difference between property ownership and residency of a candidate. A candidate must reside in their district that they are filing for,” said Rockey.
“All complaining individuals were also given the Indiana Election Division’s contact information to seek any more answers,” said Rockey. “As the Election Administrator of the county, I am given guidelines to certify individuals whom are filing to run for office, Justin Green’s Declaration was verified and certified for the Primary and General election, just as all parties Declarations were.”
WSLM confirmed with Matthew R. Kochevar, Co-General Counsel of the Indiana Election Division, that no challenge had been filed at the state level.
“Those clerks did a fine job in 2007, 2011 and 2015. The candidate filings showed my address and it was never an issue. This is the first time this has been brought up,” said Green
Briscoe was asked today for a comment regarding the latest information about Green’s residence on Tucker Street.
“I did see the video,” said Briscoe. “No, I do not have a retraction. I said that I did not believe he resides at the Tucker Street address. I still don’t. I think it was nice of you to follow up w/the interview & get us a look inside though.”
Green won the Republican nomination against challenger Ron Haendiges in the May Primary.
He will face Democrat challenger William “Bill” Ackerman on November 5.
At the press conference on Monday, it was pointed out that Ackerman does not own property in the City of Salem but does live at 198 East Oak Drive in a house owned by Penny Sue Buis, which she purchased in 1984. Briscoe said they lived together.
Briscoe, an attorney, said resdency can be a “vague term.”
“Clearly it’s your primary residence,” Briscoe explained. “It’s where you live and associated with your mailing address. The mailing address is not definitive. It’s a good sign of where you live. Where you spend most of your time. It doesn’t mean you don’t have a second house. You might have clothing there.”
When explaining residency issues during the press conference, Briscoe noted that a candidate for office had to be a land owner of the residence.
When it was clarified that Ackerman didn’t own land in Salem, Briscoe amended her statement to note that it would be ok for a candidate to rent property.
“I’m not sure ownership is a requirement for running,” she said. “But it is for the homestead exemption. You can rent. I’m pretty sure you can rent. I’ve been told by people that I talk to….at one time, Justin rented an apartment here in town. I wouldn’t have any problem with a rental. You have legal rights when you rent.”
It is not known if Ackerman rents the residence on Oak Drive, but that is listed as his residence on political filings.