HAMMOND – A former senior Porter County election official is asking a federal judge to reinstate it in the county government payroll.
Kathryn A. Kozuszek claims in a request for a preliminary injunction that her removal from voter registration and electoral duties by Porter County officials was an improper act of political remuneration due to her explicit criticism of the treatment of the vote last fall.
His lawyer, Ivan E. Bodensteiner, petitioned US District Court Judge Joseph S. Van Bokkelen late last week to reinstate Kozuszek as an employee of the county's electoral staff later, as Bodensteiner claims, dismissal of Kozuszek on 1 July.
Kozuszek, wife of President of the Porter County Democratic Party, Jeff Chidester, has worked as a Democratic Director of the Voter Registration Office since 2001 and helped lead Porter County elections until she and some officials of Porter County did not retire at the beginning of last year.
Kozuszek sued Porter County Officer, Porter County Electoral Committee and David Beng, a Republican member of the electoral committee, for his extraordinary work in a previous election.
Kozuszek's lawsuit also claimed that officials from Porter County retaliated against his overtime pay by taking away supervision of Porter County election results.
Kozuszek was the voice at the end of last year in keeping those officials responsible for several mishaps in the 2018 general elections. The polling stations were understaffed, the workers lacked training and the counting of votes was so late that the final figures were not published until three days after the elections.
These electoral problems prompted the General Assembly to review the management of elections in Porter County by creating a new Election and Registration Council.
Kozuszek says he does not challenge the new electoral reform legislation, which includes an anti-nepotism provision, which prevents Porter County party presidents or county officials from appointing family members.
However, he is asking for some position with county elections and registration personnel.
Kozuszek claims to have come to work on July 1, but the Porter County clerk and chief executive and Porter County police officers denied her access to her office until the Office door lock has not been changed.
Kozuszek claims to have been punished for exercising his first amendment right to express political criticism to the county government.
Lawyers for Porter County officials have asked the judge to dismiss the case on the grounds that his extraordinary problem is a personal complaint against the county's efforts to save taxpayers' dollars and is not a political controversy protected by the constitution.