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Martinsville Mayor facing questions after asking city employees for their vote

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MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (April 21, 2015) - It was a combative city council meeting in Martinsville Monday that left some city council members questioning something the Mayor said there. This comes after news that the city is struggling with its finances, and according to one city employee, city workers could soon go without a pay check.

“The look on their face was like, did he really just say that? They were taken like I was,” said Martinsville City Councilman Terry Buster.

Buster was surprised to say the least when the Mayor openly acknowledged campaigning for the support of city employees during a city-sanctioned meeting.

Audio of the council meeting shares the heated exchange:

Rod Stafford, Martinsville resident: "Did you call a city wide meeting today, a mandatory meeting for employees?"

Martinsville Mayor Phil Deckard: "I had a meeting with employees, yes sir I did... That's my prerogative and I exercise that right."

Stafford: "Was the election talked about in that meeting, yes or no?"

Deckard: "Of course it was brought up... several things were."

Stafford: "And were those people asked to support you?"

Deckard: "I did tell them I would appreciate their vote and support, you bet I did."

“To do that, made me feel like he thought he was untouchable,” said Buster.

“I don’t like it. I’m against it, and I’m going to be very vocal,” said Rod Stafford, the voice behind the questions at the council meeting.

“I think that he shouldn’t be able to use my tax dollars for his campaign, to bring people here, that we pay their wages, to better his campaign,” said Stafford.

But despite Stafford’s concerns, Morgan County Clerk Stephanie Elliott claims what the Mayor did was not illegal campaigning.

“I have consulted the attorneys at the Indiana election division and from the email that I was sent, it's perfectly legal for the candidate for mayor to ask voters to vote for them, including voters who happen to be employed by the city,” said Elliott.

The Mayor was called into question Monday after news broke of Martinsville, according to the City Treasurer, struggling to make its payroll.

“I did say I would support my employees and I would appreciate their vote and support for me,” said Deckard.

Deckard claims he held the meeting to assure employees that despite concerns, they would be receiving a paycheck and admits, he asked for their votes.

“I’m not questioning the meeting that I had, it was in the best interest of all employees,” said Deckard.

The mayor insisted this is all a political back and forth, with the election right around the corner on May 5.