County leaders sworn into office ahead of New Year

HANCOCK COUNTY — One by one, they placed their left hands on the Bible, vowing to faithfully and impartially perform the duties of their office to the best of their abilities.

Six newly elected county officials were formally sworn in Wednesday and are now ready to get to work.

Terms officially begin Sunday for new county officials, when some return to seats they’ve held the past four years, while others take office for the first time.

Those taking the oath Wednesday were treasurer Janice Silvey, coroner David Stillinger, commissioner John Jessup and council members Debbie Bledsoe, Kent Fisk and Martha Vail.

Commissioner Brad Armstrong was unable to attend Wednesday’s ceremony and will be sworn in at a different time, said Silvey, also the county’s Republican party chair.

Surrounded by their family and friends, the elected officials were sworn in by judges Richard Culver, Terry Snow and Scott Sirk in Hancock Circuit Court.

Silvey, Armstrong, Fisk and Bledsoe return to seats they currently hold, while Stillinger, Jessup and Vail take offices they haven’t previously held.

The newcomers are looking forward to starting work, saying they’ve spent the past few months preparing for their new position as civil servants and learning about their offices. Incumbents say they’re eager to continue serving their community and to face new challenges head on.

For county council members and commissioners, those challenges are expected to include finding a solution to the overcrowded Hancock County Jail, which for months has been over capacity.

Jessup, who has served as a member of the county council for the past six years, said he’s eager to get started as a commissioner. His first meeting is slated for Tuesday.

Vail, who has spent months attending county meetings to learn more about the position she was elected to, said while she’s excited for her first meeting, she’s also a bit anxious.

“I know I have a lot more to learn,” she said. “I’m just going to listen and be the voice for the people.”

Meanwhile, the treasurer’s office this year will launch a new tax software system that will make it easier for residents to pay their property taxes, a process Silvey will oversee.

Stillinger already has put together a team of experienced deputy coroners and is looking for a new location for autopsies to be conducted rather than at a local funeral home business.

On Wednesday, after each elected official took the oath of office, Republican Party vice chair Steve Leonard left elected officials with one message.

“May God’s blessings be with you, and may you do the job to the best of your ability,” he said.

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