5 contested races for municipal elections

GREENFIELD — There are only five contested races for city and town elections this spring, but some candidates are campaigning for the May 5 primary.

Greenfield’s mayoral race is the city’s lone contest for the primary election, and a Democrat who signed up for a city council seat ensures at least one race in the fall.

There also are races in Fortville, McCordsville and Cumberland for the Republican nominations for town council or clerk-treasurer.

Friday was the last day to file to run for primary election, and the race for Greenfield mayor already is heating up.

Mayor Chuck Fewell and city council member Judy Swift both filed on the opening day to seek the Republican nomination for the city’s top executive seat. It’s the first mayoral race for both candidates, as Fewell was appointed by a Republican caucus in late 2013 to complete the term of the late Mayor Dick Pasco.

Swift, who is set to retire after a 45-year career with Greenfield Banking Co., said she’s just getting her toes wet in campaigning but has a kickoff planned for Thursday and a fundraiser set for next month.

Although she’s just getting started, residents are already supporting her, she said. Whether she’s eating at a local restaurant or shopping at a store, people are eager to greet her and show their support.

She has lived and worked in Greenfield for most of her life, and that’s what will help make her successful in the May primary, Swift said.

“My journey is just beginning,” she said. “I’m ready.”

Fewell’s campaign is underway, too. He launched his campaign in November and has a committee in place. As mayor, he’s spent many Saturdays going door to door greeting residents. He’ll continue that as a candidate, he said, but his main focus is running the city.

“I’m feeling very good,” Fewell said. “That’s my goal, to get to as many places as I can, and I will.”

As mayor, he’s helped oversee the Potts Ditch relocation project and is a proponent of the downtown revitalization plan becoming a reality. If elected, he said, he plans to continue that work.

Lori Elmore is the only candidate for Greenfield clerk-treasurer, hoping to fill the shoes of Larry Breese, who is retiring.

Republicans who filed for Greenfield City Council are Dan Riley and Joe Skvarenina for the two open at-large seats; Kerry Grass, the incumbent for District 5; Jeff Lowder, newcomer for District 4; John Patton, incumbent for District 3; Mitch Pendlum, incumbent for District 2; and Gary McDaniel, incumbent for District 1.

McDaniel, however, will be challenged in the November general election. Michael Tucker was the only Democrat to file for a Greenfield slot.

Tucker ran unsuccessfully in 2014 for county council but said he’s eager to serve the community he grew up in. At 23, he would be the youngest on the city council if elected.

“I truly believe when it comes to public service, when it comes to working for local government, it’s about understanding your community and reaching out to do what’s best for your neighbor,” Tucker said. “You want someone who truly wants what’s best for the city. I think I’m that person.”

Still, McDaniel said he isn’t worried. He said he worked hard during his first term on the council and keeps an open line of communication with the residents he serves.

“I don’t worry about the challenger,” he said. “If they feel I deserve another term, I’m more than happy to serve another term. If I’ve done my job over the last three years, … I should have the ability to win the election.”

In Fortville, Clerk-Treasurer Marcie Noe Stafford is being challenged for the Republican nomination by Sherry Durbin.

Durbin, 43, is a business assistant in a dental office. She said she hopes to restore an open line of communication among the office, employees and other elected officials. While acknowledging recent outbursts in council meetings over the incumbent’s bookkeeping, Durbin said she probably would have run for clerk-treasurer anyway. Still, she wants to have regular office hours, ask plenty of questions to learn about the job and work with other officials.

“I definitely want to mend those broken bridges — to work together, that’s my main goal,” she said.

Stafford could not be reached for comment this week.

The other race in Fortville is for the District 2 town council seat: Incumbent Republican Timothy Hexamer is being challenged by Sean Simmons.

Republican incumbents Janet Manship and Ron Stafford also filed for re-election but are not challenged.

There’s a race for the District 3 seat on the McCordsville Town Council between Republican incumbent Larry Longman and challenger Dan Vail. Bryan Burney is running for the District 2 seat but is unchallenged. Incumbent McCordsville Clerk-Treasurer Cathy Gardner also is unchallenged.

While Cumberland town elections will be conducted in Marion County, there is only one contested race there as well. Anna Pea, a Republican incumbent, is being challenged by Republicans Don Engerer and Michael Wherry for the District 3 seat.

Hancock County Republican Party Chairwoman Janice Silvey said overall she’s pleased with the number of Republicans who filed for the election, and she will work to slate candidates this summer to spots that were not filled. The McCordsville District 1 seat, for example, has no candidate.

As a general rule, Silvey added, the GOP central committee doesn’t formally endorse any primary election candidates.

The Democrats, however, might get involved to back Michael Tucker for city council, said Chairman Phil Hunt. Hunt said he is looking for other quality Democratic candidates to run for the fall, and he might slate them to vacancies on the ballot. He said he is not necessarily looking to fill every line with a name, but he’d like quality candidates step forward.

Hunt said he hopes people interested in running will contact him or other members of the Democratic central committee.

At a glance

Here’s a look at who’s running in the May 5 primary election for municipal positions. Terms would begin next year. Cumberland offices are listed, but the election is held in Marion County.

Chuck Fewell, R, mayor of Greenfield (incumbent)

Judy Swift, R, mayor of Greenfield

Lori Elmore, R, Greenfield clerk-treasurer

Dan Riley, R, Greenfield City Council at-large

Joe Skvarenina, R, Greenfield City Council at-large

Gary McDaniel, R, Greenfield City Council District 1 (incumbent)

Michael Tucker, D, Greenfield City Council District 1

Mitch Pendlum, R, Greenfield City Council District 2 (incumbent)

John Patton, R, Greenfield City Council District 3 (incumbent)

Jeff Lowder, R, Greenfield City Council District 4

Kerry Grass, R, Greenfield City Council District 5 (incumbent)

Sherry Durbin, R, Fortville clerk-treasurer

Marcie Noe Stafford, R, Fortville clerk-treasurer (incumbent)

Janet Miles Manship, R, Fortville Town Council District 1 (incumbent)

Ron Stafford, R, Fortville Town Council District 1 (incumbent)

Timothy Hexamer, R, Fortville Town Council District 2 (incumbent)

Sean M. Simmons, R, Fortville Town Council District 2

Cathy Gardner, R, McCordsville clerk-treasurer (incumbent)

Bryan Burney, R, McCordsville Town Council District 2

Larry Longman, R, McCordsville Town Council District 3 (incumbent)

Dan Vail, R, McCordsville Town Council District 3

Leroy Wheeler, D, Cumberland town judge (incumbent)

Erica Salmon, R, Cumberland clerk-treasurer (incumbent)

Brian Gritter, R, Cumberland Town Council District 2 (incumbent)

Don Engerer, R, Cumberland Town Council District 3

Michael Wherry, R, Cumberland Town Council District 3

Anna Pea, R, Cumberland Town Council District 3 (incumbent)

Mark Reynold, D, Cumberland Town Council District 4 (incumbent)

Joe Siefker, R, Cumberland Town Council District 5 (incumbent)

Note: There are two at-large seats on the Greenfield City Council, so Skvarenina and Riley are not contested. Likewise, there are two District 1 seats in Fortville, so Manship and Stafford are not contested.

The following towns will hold elections in the fall only.

New Palestine: Three at-large seats on the town council; clerk-treasurer (Jan Jarson, a Republican incumbent, filed for election early)

Shirley: Three district seats on the town council; clerk-treasurer

Spring Lake: Three district seats on the town council; clerk-treasurer

Wilkinson: Three at-large seats on the town council; clerk-treasurer

Sources: Hancock County Election Office, Marion County Election Office