3 residency challenges filed against Greenwood mayoral candidate

A Greenwood mayoral candidate is facing questions about whether he meets the state’s residency requirements to run for office.

Three Greenwood residents filed candidacy challenges against Republican Joe Hubbard, questioning if he lives at the home he listed on his candidacy filing for mayor, or if he still lives in his previous home address in White River Township, outside of city limits.

Hubbard, a former Center Grove School Board member, is challenging incumbent Mayor Mark Myers in the May Republican primary. When he announced his intention to run this summer, he said he planned on moving into Greenwood city limits to qualify.

State law requires mayoral candidates for a second- or third-class city — which includes Greenwood — to live within city limits for at least one year before the municipal election. Municipal Election Day is Nov. 7, meaning candidates must have lived within city limits since at least before Nov. 7, 2022.

To run for mayor, Hubbard had to move into city limits and resign from the Center Grove School Board. He lived on Bloomsbury Court in the Kensington Grove subdivision.

In June 2022, he bought a home on Stonemill Drive in Greenwood’s Clearbrook Village subdivision, which is an adults-only community. He and his wife are listed as the owners of record on online property records, while Hubbard is also listed as one of two owners of record of the Bloomsbury Court home. He resigned from the school board in October, citing a move outside of the school district.

The Stonemill Drive address in Greenwood is listed as Hubbard’s residence on his voter registration record, along with his candidacy filing and his campaign committee filings. It is also the address listed on his driver’s license, according to a copy of a driver’s license Hubbard provided to the Daily Journal Friday. To update the residential address on a driver’s license, a person is required to provide two approved documents to establish or update their address within 30 days of the address change, according to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Utility statements cited

The three challenges were filed by Lucy Bartley, Christopher Burton and Ronald Palmer. Palmer is currently running for Greenwood City Council At-Large as a Republican. Burton serves on the Greenwood Parks and Recreation Board. Bartley is not a candidate and doesn’t serve on a city board.

All three petitions cite Hubbard’s alleged failure to meet the state’s candidate residency requirements as the reason why he should be taken off the ballot. The petitioners don’t believe he lives at the Clearbrook Village home.

In Bartley’s complaint, she attached four recent billing statements from the Greenwood Sanitation Department — a public record eligible for release — for the Stonemill Drive home in her petition. The Daily Journal submitted public records requests for the bills and received identical documents.

The bill statements show almost no water usage at the home listed as Hubbard’s Greenwood residence from Sept. 9 to Jan. 10. One bill shows a small billed usage of 1 from the period of Oct. 10 to Nov. 8. There was a sewage usage fee of $5.06 for that period, documents show.

On all four statements, there were charges for the city’s base sewer rate and trash services, but only one statement showed the usage fee, documents show.

Bartley, a long-time Greenwood resident, said she filed her challenge because she didn’t like what she saw as deception in the election process. She said the evidence shows Hubbard does not live in Greenwood, and that she doesn’t think he’s qualified.

“I think it’s wrong that he is saying that he’s a resident of Greenwood, and he’s not,” Bartley said. “There’s no way that he has our best interest.”

Before her complaint, she asked Hubbard several questions about some of his campaign statements on his Facebook page but didn’t get a reply. She also filled out his issues survey, but didn’t get a reply either, she said.

Eventually, Bartley decided to do some digging on her own, and requested his utility bills from the city-owned utility, she said.

“He obviously doesn’t live there because there’s no usage. There’s no water usage whatsoever,” she said. “So that tells me that he’s not living there. You just have to drive by and nobody’s living there.”

Questions have also been raised online about Hubbard’s home being in an “adult only” community. They question this because Hubbard has two teenage daughters, one who recently graduated from Center Grove and another who is still in high school.

Hubbard’s response

Hubbard declined a request for an interview about his residency, but agreed to respond to emailed questions.

Hubbard sent an emailed statement that partially addressed one question about whether he lives within city limits.

In his emailed statement, Hubbard said he moved into Greenwood city limits last year before the eligibility deadline and that he has been a resident of the Greenwood area for more than 30 years.

Hubbard also attacked his primary opponent, incumbent Mayor Mark Myers, in the statement.

“It is unfortunate Mark Myers is using the same tactics to weaponize government as Democrats in Washington D.C., to maintain power,” Hubbard said.

Myers has not publicly talked about Hubbard’s Greenwood residency, and none of the candidacy challenges were filed by him.

Hubbard, in his statement, also touted his efforts to knock on almost 2,000 doors in Greenwood, which he said has had an “overwhelming” response. He said he feels residents are ready for a mayor focused on the city’s future. In contrast, he feels Myers is focused on developers and special interests.

“I have a positive vision for the future of Greenwood about making Greenwood safe, supporting law enforcement and first responders, and creating an environment for local businesses to grow,” Hubbard said. “I will focus on making Greenwood a place families can live, work, and play.”

Hubbard did not answer questions about his utility bills, his Center-Grove area home allegedly being for sale or about living apart from his family.

What’s next

Generally under Indiana law, a residence is codified as the place where a person’s “true, fixed, permanent home” is, and is the place where a person has the intent to return whenever they are absent. Residency may be established by the person’s origin, birth or intent and conduct taken to implement their intent, according to the 2023 Indiana Candidate Guide published by the Indiana Election Division.

When it comes to residency challenges, it is up to a county election board or the Indiana Election Commission to determine the facts of each particular situation and resolve the challenge regarding a candidate’s residence, the guide says.

In this case, the challenges against Hubbard are before the Johnson County Election Board. The three-member board will be tasked with determining the “actual facts” of the dispute and deciding what, if anything, a candidate did to establish his residence, according to the guide.

The process is similar to the one used by a county voter registration office to determine if a voter resides at a location listed in their voter registration application, the guide says.

The Johnson County Election Board has not yet set the date for a hearing on the challenges. More information on the hearing date will likely be made available next week, officials say.