BY ELIZABETH BEILMAN
News and Tribune
JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (News and Tribune) - Former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett won't be serving on the Clark County Council after all, as he doesn't meet the residency requirements to hold office.
State law requires office holders must have lived in the district they represent for at least six months and within the county for at least a year.
The Clark County Assessor's office recorded Bennett became the owner of his Jeffersonville home Sept. 8, which doesn't meet the six-month requirement to live within the council district. His former home in New Albany was transferred to a new owner Aug. 29.
Bennett confirmed Thursday he has only lived in Clark County about six months, having previously lived in Floyd County.
"I'm not aware of any [such law]," he told the News and Tribune when informed by the newspaper of the residency requirement. "Frankly, I would assume [Clark County GOP Chairman Jamey Noel] would know that."
Bennett said he would step aside and allow someone else to fill the seat.
"I had no intentions of running when the two years were up," he said of the District 2 term. "I strictly saw this as serving the county."
Attorney Larry Wilder, often hired to represent local Republicans, took fault.
"Sometimes when you have lawyers that don't read every word in a statute, they give bad advice," Wilder said. "Tony and I talked about the opening, and I spoke with [Noel] as well, and they both asked a question about eligibility to serve and quite honestly, I made a mistake."
Bennett was one of two Republicans caucused onto the board Wednesday evening in a surprise move. But Bennett wasn't named to fill the seat vacated by Mike Popplewell, who resigned amid misdemeanor charges.
Instead, Bennett was going to represent District 2. Brian Lenfert, sitting District 2 councilman, was elected to fill Popplewell's at-large seat.