GREENFIELD — One of two candidates for the District 5 Cumberland Town Council seat admits he won’t be able to physically attend a single council meeting for at least three years if he is elected, due to a job offer in Germany he said he couldn’t refuse.
The race pits incumbent Republican Joe Siefker against Libertarian Albert Tartaglia Jr., who plans to move temporarily to Germany at the end of next month but said he plans to keep a home address in the district. He could retain his seat if elected under Indiana law, according to the state’s election division, although Libertarian Party officials say they’d prefer he step down if elected.
Tartaglia, an accountant, threw his hat in the race this summer as the only Libertarian in the county seeking office this election, but then he was asked to relocate for work, an offer he said he couldn’t turn down.
It’s too late for him to withdraw from the race, and he said he can be available to residents if elected, even though he’ll be more than 4,000 miles away. Tartaglia noted the relocation for the job is temporary — about three years — and he said Cumberland will remain his home, adding he’ll continue to pay property taxes for his local address and maintain an Indiana driver’s license. He says he’ll be available to residents and the town council, even if that means attending meetings via videoconferencing. A 7:15 p.m. town council meeting would be at 12:15 a.m. in Germany.
Indiana’s election law requires an officeholder to reside in the district the officeholder represents. According to Indiana law, a legal residence is defined as the person’s permanent home and the place they intend to return to after being away.
Tartaglia said his goal is to win the election; the Libertarian Party of Hancock County wants one of its own in the seat, even if that means Tartaglia serves from a distance, he said.
Because the Libertarian Party is considered a minor party, if Tartaglia were to win and then resign, the town council would pick his replacement, who might not be a Libertarian.
Meanwhile, Siefker is seeking his third term on the council; he currently serves as its president. He said he’s pursuing another term because he enjoys serving his neighbors and feels he’s helped accomplish a variety of goals that are enhancing Cumberland.
During his tenure, he said, the council has been fiscally responsible, completed 11 road projects in his district — which comprises about 700 Hancock County homes — and attracted a few businesses to Cumberland.
If re-elected, he plans to work to continue attracting new development to Cumberland and help move forward plans to build the Buck Creek Trail and connect it to the Pennsy Trail in northern Hancock County, he added.
Siefker, 51, works in radiation medicine at Franciscan St. Francis Health. He’s lived in Cumberland 13 years. Before moving to Hancock County, he lived in Michigan, where he served on a plan commission and board of zoning appeals, which gave him experience and knowledge of zoning processes, he said. After moving to Cumberland, he served as his homeowners association president.
He said he has a record of being conservative with the town’s budget and has served his district well.
“I’ve got the experience, and I think I’ve shown results,” he said.
Tartaglia, an accountant who spent seven years in the military, said he’s unhappy with the direction the town is going and its leadership. He’s unhappy with the way town council members have voted to spend taxpayer dollars, especially after sewer rates increased in recent years. He’s also unhappy that the town council pays itself $10,000 a year, when Greenfield City Council members, who generally serve more residents, get paid $5,000.
If he’s elected, Tartaglia said, he will present fresh ideas and won’t be a “rubber-stamp voter,” approving proposals for use of taxpayer dollars without thorough consideration and discussion with other council members.
The current council has a habit of moving forward without paying mind to the needs and wants of its constituents, he said.
“To me, it comes off as this is their system,” he said. “They’re going to do what they want no matter what the people want.”
Tartaglia said he’s informed the Libertarian Party of Hancock County and members of his district of his intent to move, but he’s still hopeful he’ll win.
“I’m still a resident of Hancock County,” he said. “Cumberland is still my home.”
Brandon Dreiman, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Hancock County, said realistically, the party would ask Tartaglia to resign because the Libertarian philosophy is to be as close to government action as possible, especially on the local level. But replacing him with another Libertarian might be a challenge.
“Having someone you can talk to when you’re out walking your dog is really important to us,” Dreiman said. “Simply because he’s moving, though, doesn’t mean that’s the end of it.”
Incumbent Joe Siefker
Political experience: Two terms on town council
Family: Wife, Carol; two daughters
Challenger Albert Tartaglia Jr.
Political experience: None
Family: Wife, Stephanie; two children
Hancock County residents who live in Cumberland cannot vote at vote centers in Hancock County. They must vote at their precinct in Marion County.