HANCOCK COUNTY — One by one, they stopped visitors to the Hancock County Public Library.
“Rita Johnson for county council,” the Democrat’s husband, Randy, told residents heading inside to cast an early vote.
Next to him stood Republican Martha Vail, making a similar pitch.
The pair — armed with water, grapes and crackers — stood outside the Greenfield library for hours Wednesday in an effort to gain voters’ support in the final days leading up to Tuesday’s election.
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Across the county, Rita Johnson introduced herself to voters at Vineyard Community Church in McCordsville; Vail’s husband, Bill, camped out at the Sugar Creek branch of the Hancock County Public Library.
Those eleventh-hour pitches can be heard throughout the county as candidates for local office attempt to garner support for their campaigns.
On Tuesday, as voters cast ballots for national and state races, they’ll also choose three county council members as well as a new county commissioner.
Vail and Johnson face incumbents Debbie Bledsoe and Kent Fisk, as well as Democrat Randy Jones and write-in candidate Zachary LaFavers. Three will succeed to seats on the county’s fiscal body.
The District 1 commissioner race pits Republican John Jessup against Democrat Brandon Perry. The victor will replace Tom Stevens, who is not running for re-election, on the board.
Vail said campaigning outside the early vote centers was a tactic that worked well for her during the primary, when she emerged as one of three victors in an 11-person race for the party’s nomination.
All week, she stumped for votes outside one of the county’s two libraries, where residents can cast ballots ahead of Tuesday. Her husband took care of the other library, ensuring they were meeting as many voters as possible.
An accident last week that left her with a shattered shoulder and unable to use her left arm hasn’t stopped her, Vail said.
You make sacrifices when you’re running for office, even if that means standing outside a library in rain or shine for six hours a day, she said.
“If I get in, I think it’s because I’ve been out here,” she said. “I’m a firm believer in meeting the people.”
On Wednesday, Johnson said she was feeling hopeful about the election. Even if she doesn’t win, she’ll feel good knowing she gave voters a Democratic choice in the council election.
County Coroner Crystel Myers is the only Democrat currently in office.
Johnson and her husband adorned their cars with “Vote for Rita Johnson” signs, wore matching T-shirts and tried to reach as many residents as possible.
They spread out, hopping from vote center to vote center to be at the busiest locations.
As she greeted voters, Rita Johnson told them she would appreciate their vote. Randy Johnson reminded them the council race was located on the back of the ballot, and voters can choose up to three candidates.
Johnson heard positive feedback from many voters, she said. Some even said they’d cast a ballot in her favor just because she introduced herself.
“I think that’s pretty important,” Johnson said. “If I win, it’s because I worked for it.”
Other candidates used technology to reach voters.
LaFavers plans to vigorously post on social media platforms, including Facebook, ahead of Tuesday and then spend Election Day shaking hands at the polls in hopes of pulling in final votes, he said.
Jessup, who currently serves as a county councilman, spent the week balancing work and meeting with residents. Mid-week, he posted signs in supporters’ yards and stopped at the courthouse, another early voting location, and the Greenfield library.
With his daughter by his side — the pair wore vote for John Jessup T-shits — he met voters to hear what issues are important to them. The proposed new fairgrounds project and the overcrowded county jail top many residents’ list as issues they want elected officials to address, he said.
He’s got a dedicated group of volunteers — his four children — helping to run his campaign by meeting with voters and posting signs, and they’re looking forward to Tuesday, when they hope he’ll get elected for a chance to represent Hancock County in a new way.
“We’re doing what we always do,” he said. “We’re just trying to get to Tuesday.”
Voters who want to skip long election lines Tuesday have a few more hours this weekend to cast ballots before Election Day.
Early voting hours are slated for Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, these sites will be open for voting:
- McCordsville Town Hall, 6280 W. County Road 800N
- Hancock County Courthouse, 9 E. Main St.
- Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road, Greenfield
- Hancock County Public Library – Sugar Creek, 5087 W. U.S. 52, New Palestine
From 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, both libraries will be open.
On Monday, the courthouse and McCordsville Town Hall will hold hours from 8 a.m. to noon.
If you’re planning to vote, don’t forget a photo ID, such as an Indiana driver’s license or passport, with your name.
You’ll be required to show photo ID before you’re given a ballot.
Stay with the Daily Reporter throughout the day Tuesday and as election results come in that night.
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See Wednesday’s edition of the Daily Reporter for election results for local, state and national races.