Starke County Council Reaffirms Expulsion of Council Member

Starke County Council members (L to R) Brad Hazelton, Dave Pearman, Freddie Baker, Bob Sims, Tom DeCola, Howard Bailey Jr, and Kay Gudeman

The Starke County Council members took action Monday night to reaffirm the expulsion of Tom DeCola who formerly held the District 4 seat on the Starke County Council

DeCola was voted out of his seat in February after determining that he violated a code of conduct policy as passed by the council in December.  He allegedly displayed actions unbecoming of a representative of the county at an Indiana Association of Counties event in Indianapolis in December. 

DeCola filed a notice of claim through the Starke County Auditor’s Office asking for reinstatement because he stated that he was not given the proper time to respond to allegations of public intoxication and disorderly conduct indicated in sworn witness statements given to the Greendale Police Department.  DeCola noted that his deadline to respond was Feb. 21.  He also said the allegations happened outside of his office term and that the witnesses who provided statements were unreliable. 

Starke County Council President David Pearman stated that in review of the meeting minutes, it was noted that DeCola was to respond by the meeting on Feb. 18 and he did not. 

As of Monday night’s meeting, the claim has not been officially filed in the court system. 

DeCola was not present at the meeting Monday.

Councilman Howard Bailey, Jr. pointed to a sworn affidavit where DeCola reportedly told a witness that he was elected to office even though he has “…numerous convictions and one criminal offense that involved a handgun”.  DeCola also allegedly told the witness that he had been in the military and tortured people, noted Bailey.

“I’m not going to repeat the anti-semitic and racial words that are used, but he even stated that he hated, and I’m not going to say those two words, these classes of people were not safe in Starke County,” stated Bailey. 

He referred to one of the conditions under the council’s Code of Conduct resolution.

“Code of Conduct No. 5.  ‘A council member shall not engage in or threaten unlawful acts of violence to persons or property, engage in, incite or support acts or speech contrary to the lawful operation of the Constitution and laws of the United States and of the State of Indiana’.”

Starke County Council President Dave Pearman repeated the state statute that allows the council to take the action it did to expel DeCola from his seat on the council.

With that, the council members unanimously sustained their vote to expel DeCola from his council seat. 

A member of the Republican Party in Starke County will be chosen to fill the seat.  The new council member will fill the seat at the next Starke County Council meeting in April.