GREENFIELD — The election office was a flurry of activity Wednesday morning, with political hopefuls coming and going.

Throughout the day, the opening of the filing period, residents looking ahead to May’s primary election dropped by to fill out paperwork declaring their intention to seek their party’s nomination. Many have been campaigning for months, just waiting for the day to put pen to paper and make their candidacy official.

The first in line — Cindy Roberts of Wilkinson, who is running for county assessor — signed her paperwork at 8:05, just five minutes after the office opened its doors for the day.

While she wasn’t aiming to be the first candidate to officially declare her campaign, she wanted to beat the rush, she said.

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Residents interested in representing their political party in November’s election have until Feb. 9 to submit the paperwork. Wednesday, more than a dozen candidates visited the county’s election office, documents in hand. More were expected to follow suit throughout the rest of this week.

So far, only those looking to represent the county GOP have turned out, though that’s not unusual for a Hancock County primary, where contested races between Democrats are rare. The county’s Democratic party will encourage potential candidates in the coming weeks and months, officials said.

For some, Wednesday marked a moment to celebrate.

After Roberts and circuit court judge candidate Scott Sirk — who currently holds the position — turned over their papers, they took turns snapping photos of each other to post to their campaign Facebook pages, signaling to voters the race is on.

The hustle and bustle was expected, given early activity for several races, officials said. 2018’s election season kicked off several months ago, with nearly two dozen Republican candidates announcing their campaigns throughout 2017.

Wednesday, those campaigns became official, but the work has already started. Candidates are meeting with voters, buying marketing materials and putting fundraisers on the calendar.

Residents head to the polls May 10 to choose the Republican or Democratic candidates they’d like to see advance to November’s general election.

Hancock County Democratic Party chairman Randy Johnson said no Democratic candidates have committed to running for county offices at this point, though some Democrats have decided they’ll serve as precinct committee chairs and state convention delegates and were expected to file the necessary paperwork this week.

If no Democrats file to run in the primary, the party has until June 30 to select candidates to fill vacancies on the ballot ahead of November’s general election.

Meanwhile, Republican leaders expect nearly every race will be contested in May.

Some races are expected to be especially crowded, some with as many as four candidates.

Four people, including current Hancock County Sheriff’s Department employees Brad Burkhart, Donnie Munden and Donnie Smith, and the county’s former probation leader, Wayne Addison, are running for the GOP’s nomination to replace Sheriff Mike Shepherd, who has reached the two-term limit and plans to retire this year.

And four Republicans with legal experience seek to serve as Hancock Circuit Court judge, including Sirk, who was appointed by the governor last month to complete former judge Richard Culver’s term, and local attorneys Cody Coombs, D.J. Davis and Scott Wooldridge.

Wednesday, Addison wore a suit to fill out his paperwork and brought a small fan club to the courthouse to watch.

Being county sheriff is a job he’s always wanted.

“I’ve been waiting 28 years for this,” he said. “There’s no turning back at this point.”

Miriam Rolles, who is running for county clerk, already had her paperwork notarized Wednesday, making the process even quicker for election office employees.

When election deputy Robin Spille told Rolles she’s officially a candidate, she smiled.

“I’ve been coming in and out of this courthouse for 20 to 30 years,” she said. “It’s about time, right?”

Coming up

Here are a few key dates to keep in mind this election season.

Feb. 9: Window to file a declaration of candidacy for the primary election closes

April 9: Voter registration for the May primary ends

April 10: Early voting kicks off

April 30: Absentee ballot application for a voter requesting an absentee ballot by mail are due

May 7: Early voting ends

May 8: Vote centers open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for primary election day

May 22: Voter registration for the General Election opens

June 30: Candidate forms (for Republicans and Democrats) to fill vacancies on the ballot due

July 2: Candidate forms for independent or minor party candidates due

Source: The Indiana Election Division

Need to register to vote?

Residents have until April 9 to register to vote in the primary election on May 8.

You’re eligible to vote if:

  • You are both a U.S. citizen and a resident of Indiana
  • You will be at least 18 years of age on or before Nov. 6
  • You are not currently in prison after being convicted of a crime
  • You are registered to vote

You can register to vote at the Hancock County Election Office in the courthouse, 9 E. Main St., Greenfield, or online at indianavoters.com/. Bring your driver’s license or Indiana-issued photo ID.

On the ballot

Here’s a look at local offices on the ballot this year and who has filed their candidacy so far.

  • Assessor
    – Cindy Wolski Roberts
  • Auditor
    – Debra Carnes
  • Recorder
    – Marcia Moore
  • Surveyor
    – Susan Bodkin
  • Clerk
    – Lisa Eberhardt Lofgreen
    – Miriam D. Rolles
  • Commissioner, District 2
    – Kent Fisk
  • Council, districts 1, 2, 3 and 4
    – Jeannine Gray, District 1
    – Jim Shelby, District 3
    – William Bolander, District 4
  • Sheriff
    – Wayne Addison
  • Circuit Court Judge
    – Scott Sirk
  • Prosecutor

Looking ahead

This month, the Daily Reporter tells readers what issues and projects county leaders expect to tackle this year. We’ll update you on everything from education to business and development. Watch upcoming issues of the Daily Reporter to learn more about what to expect in 2018.

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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.