Vote centers won’t open for uncontested races

GREENFIELD — Only those voters living in an area with a contested race may cast a ballot in the General Election this year.

Because there are no contested races in Wilkinson, Spring Lake, New Palestine and McCordsville this fall, the Hancock County Election Board has opted not to print ballots for those races and limit the number of vote centers that will be open Nov. 3. Hancock County Clerk Marcia Moore cited costs savings in the decision.

Contested races are being held in Greenfield and Fortville for council seats and in Fortville and Shirley for the post of clerk-treasurer.

In Greenfield, District 5 voters will elect either incumbent city councilman Kerry Grass or independent challenger Donna Steele. In Fortville, the council race for two District 1 seats is among Republican incumbents Janet Miles Manship and Ron Stafford and independents Patrick Calhoun and G. Lenzy Hendrix Jr. In Shirley, voters will choose among independent candidates Debbie Duke and Teresa Hester and Republican Kassandra Jessup for clerk-treasurer. Fortville’s clerk-treasurer race is among independents Tonya Drake Davis and Jeff Ratliff and Republican Sherry Durbin.

Moore said the move will save the county and the municipalities money because the election office won’t need to open and staff as many vote centers.

Indiana code allows for a county election board to choose not to hold an election if there’s no contested race. Those running unopposed are considered already elected, Moore said.

The law stipulates election boards must vote unanimously to limit an election.

Not holding a citywide election in Greenfield or holding any election in the other three municipalities is a significant cost savings to taxpayers, Moore said.

For example, during the spring primary, the election office spent about $3,500 to pay precinct workers at the vote centers across the country. About $2,000 of that was spent paying the workers at polling places set up at the Hancock County Public Library, the county courthouse annex and the 4-H fairgrounds.

Moore said she expects to spend about $600 to pay primary workers on Election Day in November. Voting on Nov. 3 will take place only at the Fortville Community Center, Wilkinson Church and courthouse annex.

“Look at how much we’re saving just on that,” Moore said.

That doesn’t include savings on mileage to haul election equipment to various polling sites, meals for poll workers, the cost of ballots and other expenses related to holding an election.

“As more and more county and municipal budgets are getting thin, we felt like the best thing to do was to not spend money if we didn’t have to,” she said.

Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell, who won the primary election in May against challenger Judy Swift and is unopposed in the fall, said he’s disappointed there weren’t enough contested races to hold a citywide election, but a citywide election isn’t needed if there’s only one race.

“It’s kind of disheartening. … I like elections,” he said. “Elections are exciting, but they’re also very expensive.”

Moore said the board encourages people to get involved either with the party of their choice or as an independent to give voters a broader selection of candidates.

Candidates

Greenfield

Mayor: Chuck Fewell (R)

Clerk-treasurer: Lori Elmore (R)

Council at-large (2 seats): Dan Riley (R), Joe Skvarenina (R)

Council district 1: Gary McDaniel (R)

Council district 2: Mitch Pendlum (R)

Council district 3: John Patton (R)

Council district 4: Jeffery Lowder (R)

Council district 5: Kerry Grass (R); Donna Steele (independent)

Fortville

Clerk-treasurer: Sherry Durbin (R); Tonya Drake Davis (independent); Jeff Ratliff (independent)

Council district 1 (2 seats): Janet Miles Manship (R); Ron Stafford (R); Patrick Calhoun (independent); G. Lenzy Hendrix Jr. (independent)

Council district 2: Timothy Hexamer (R)

McCordsville

Clerk-treasurer: Cathy Gardner (R)

Council district 2: Bryan Burney (R)

Council district 3: Larry Longman (R)

New Palestine

Clerk-treasurer: Becky Hilligoss (R)

Council at-large (3 seats): Clint Bledsoe (R); Janet Jarson (R); Larry Jonas (R)

Shirley

Clerk-treasurer: Debbie Duke (independent); Teresa Hester (independent); Kassandra Jessup (R)

Town council center: Joseph Smith (R)

Town council south: Rebecca Perkins (independent)

Wilkinson

Clerk-treasurer: Janette Young

Council at-large (three seats): David Elliott (independent); Dennis Fisher (independent); Robert Heiden (independent)

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.