The case of former Summerfield Town Councilmember Todd Rotruck will be heading back to the Guilford County Board of Elections after Guilford County Senior Resident Superior Court Judge John Craig ruled this week on Rotruck’s appeal of that April Elections Board decision – one which resulted in Rotruck being removed from the Town Council.
In April, the Elections Board determined Rotruck wasn’t a resident of Summerfield for the purpose of voting and town officials used that decision to remove him from the Town Council.
Rotruck appealed that decision and, on Monday, August 6, Craig heard that appeal. On Monday, August 13, Craig sent an email to the attorneys for both sides that stated, “The record does not contain any affirmative proof that Mr. Rotruck was not domiciled in Summerfield” at the time in question.
Craig was working this week with the attorneys to create an official signed court order.
In February, Summerfield resident Janelle Robinson filed the voter residency challenge claiming that Rotruck didn’t live in Summerfield, where he served as an elected official. At the end of that long hearing in April, all four Board of Elections members voted that Rotruck lived in Greensboro, where his family resides – rather than in Summerfield, where the house he and his wife own is undergoing major renovation.
After the Board of Elections voted to uphold Robinson’s claim, Rotruck and his attorney Marsh Prause, with the Winston-Salem firm of Allman Spry Davis Leggett & Crumpler, argued that the Board of Elections procedure and decision had been flawed.
Rotruck, who was clearly delighted by this week’s ruling, said he did not wish to make a comment at this time.
Craig’s email states, “I want to remand, with the requirement that the Board examine whether Mr. Rotruck was domiciled in Summerfield over a specific period of time, between 28 March 2018 and 8 May 2018.” It adds, “Pertinent documents to examine should be Mr. Rotruck’s driver’s license, his federal tax returns (if any were filed during that time), and electric bills for the months of March, April, and May 2018 at the Summerfield and Greensboro addresses.”
When candidates face a residency challenge against their right to run for office, the burden of proof of residency is on the candidate. However, in the Rotruck’s case, the accuser has the burden of proof since it’s his voter eligibility – and only by fiat his eligibility for service – that is being challenged.
North Carolina law states that a no voter challenge shall be sustained “unless the challenge is substantiated by affirmative proof.”
Don Wendelken, a former Guilford County Board of Elections member who now runs the Summerfield Scoop Facebook page, said the Rotruck case has been a focal point of attention of the town for months.
“It just goes on and on and on,” he said.