County candidates to face off in election debates

GREENFIELD — Republican and Democratic candidates running for local office will square off in public debates this month.

Debate topics will cover a number of community issues, including how candidates think county officials should handle the overcrowded Hancock County Jail, where candidates stand on county spending and their positions on the proposed fairgrounds project.

The Hancock County Public Library will host two debates ahead of the Nov. 8 election. The first for candidates running for three at-large seats on the Hancock County Council will be at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 28. A second debate for one District 1 Hancock County Board of Commissioners seat is planned for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 30. Both will be in the community room at the Greenfield branch of the Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road.

There will be no other debates this fall as races for other local offices on the ballot, Hancock County treasurer, District 3 Hancock County commissioner and Hancock County coroner, are uncontested.

The commissioner and council debates will be moderated by Wayne Addison, a local auctioneer who has emceed similar events. He also served as moderator for election debates last spring.

Addison said he hopes the debates help answer questions residents have about the people running to represent them at the local level. He wants voters to have the chance to learn where candidates stand on issues important to the community.

“Our local politics are very important. … It’s affects me, my family, my friends, my neighbors here locally,” he said. “Any time I can help locally on anything — I love to do that.”

The library has hosted a number of debates over the years, including two of last spring’s primary debates. Library officials say the venue serves as a neutral site for candidates that’s centrally located and accessible to all residents.

Library director Dave Gray said the library tends to serve as a community center, playing host to many community events. The debates are a great opportunity for voters to get familiar with the candidates and what they stand for, he said.

The Hancock County Council debate will bring together the three Republican May primary winners — incumbents Kent Fisk and Debbie Bledsoe and Martha Vail, and two Democratic hopefuls — Rita Johnson and Randy Jones, as well as write-in candidate Zachary LaFavers.

Each candidate will be given two minutes for an opening and closing statement. Addison will then ask the candidates a series of questions about local issues, in which they’ll be given a minute and a half to respond.

The commissioner debate planned for Sept. 30 will see Republican primary winner John Jessup and Democratic hopeful Brandon Perry. The debate setup will mirror the council debate; each is expected to last about an hour.

Up for debate

The Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road, Greenfield, will host two debates this election season. Local auctioneer Wayne Addison will moderate the events.

Hancock County Council debate:



Kent Fisk

Debbie Bledsoe

Martha Vail


Rita Johnson

Randy Jones

Write-in candidate: Zachary LaFavers

When: 5:30 p.m. Sept. 28

Hancock County Commissioner District 1 debate:



John Jessup


Brandon Perry

When: 5:30 p.m. Sept. 30

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