CUMBERLAND — It appears to be the seat many want to sit in.
Cumberland Town Council District 3 race has three vying to win the Republican nomination in the upcoming primary.
Incumbent Anna Pea faces political newcomer Mike Wherry and former two-term city council member Don Engerer.
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Pea said she’s had her hand in Cumberland politics one way or another for past 25 years, and she’s hopeful voters will give her another four years to finish what she started on the council.
“I’m just passionate about seeing change,” Pea said. “I’d love to see some quality development … and I kind I feel like I just got started, and change takes a lot of time.”
With her term coming to an end, Pea, who makes a living in real estate, said she’s starting to make an impact in the community and is hopeful about being re-elected.
Engerer lost to Pea in 2011 and said he’s ready for a rematch. A resident of the area since 1972, he said he’s not thrilled with how the district has been represented since he was voted out in the last election.
Engerer served on the council for eight years. He said that when he was on the council he sent constituents updates on projects that were ongoing and coming up. With Pea, those updates are no longer coming, he said, which he called a disservice to those she represents.
While Engerer, who is retired, has historically been affiliated with the county’s Democratic Party, he is running as a Republican. He said the switch, in some ways, was a practical one — a better chance at getting elected.
“Democrats in Hancock County, you just have trouble finding them,” he said. “I agree more with the Republican Party than I do the Democrats anyway.”
Engerer is not the only candidate in the race to have changed parties.
Wherry is a former 2010 Libertarian secretary of state candidate.
A patent and trademark attorney, Wherry said he wants to get on the council because he doesn’t like the direction council members are taking the town.
“I’ve just been unhappy with the way things have been run over the past couple of years,” he said.
Wherry, a Mt. Vernon High School graduate and former class valedictorian, said he considers himself a fiscal conservative and a Republican.
Wherry, who has a mechanical engineering degree and served as an officer in the U.S. Navy for five years, has questioned the way the current council is spending taxpayer dollars and whether the council understands the town’s identity.
“They’re trying to make us a Fishers, a Carmel or a Broad Ripple, … and I question — what are the benefits of that, and where is the money to drive all of that?” he said.
If elected, Wherry said, he would like to see the town spend money on improving roads rather than trails.
“I look around our neighborhoods, and almost all of our roads stink,” he said. “I think the way for Cumberland to bounce back is to be fiscally responsible.”
Pea, too, said she has concerns about the town’s finances but said she diligently reviews the claims register to make sure town money is being spent wisely.
Pea said the current council is being frugal with taxpayer money.
If re-elected, she said, she would like to connect with constituents via digital means. She would like to see the town move forward and utilize social media by creating a town app and developing an attractive Facebook page.
“We want to get that citizen involvement,” Pea said. “I just think that is so important, and we’re working hard on that.”
Engerer said if he can get his old seat back he’ll inform the community about what is going on with bimonthly reports.
He said he would focus on letting people know what is happening with their tax dollars at present and what the council’s goals are for the future.
“Right now, we don’t know that,” he said.
Current city council members Mark Reynolds, a Democrat representing District 4; Joe Siefker, a Republican representing District 5; and Brian Gritter, a Republican representing District 2; are also up for re-election but are unopposed in the primary.
Find out where the candidates stand on the issues on today’s XX.