GREENFIELD — Voters will get a chance to hear straight from candidates in several upcoming debates as the campaign season intensifies.
The Daily Reporter and the Hancock County Public Library are sponsoring four debates next month featuring candidates in local races. With contested races for state Senate, county council, county commissioner and coroner, this season marks the most local debates set for Hancock County in the past several years.
In addition, there are several school board forums and debates for state and congressional candidates coming up.
The first debate at the library is Oct. 10 between Hancock County Commissioner District 3 candidates Brad Armstrong and Mike Merlau. The race is a replay of four years ago, when both were newcomers. Republican Armstrong beat Merlau, a Democrat.
The two candidates vying for retiring Sen. Beverly Gard’s seat in the Statehouse will debate Oct. 15. Republican Mike Crider will face Democrat Michael Adkins. Both are newcomers. Crider gained debate and campaign experience during the spring in a three-way primary race he easily won. Adkins is the chairman of the Hancock County Democratic Party and has been outlining specific ideas for legislation.
The three candidates in the running for Hancock County coroner will debate Oct. 22. Independent Dan Devoy recently won a Republican Party caucus to fill the rest of former coroner Tammy Vangundy’s term this year. Devoy will face independent Joe Fortner and Democrat Crystel Myers in the debate.
The final debate will be Oct. 29 among the four candidates running for county council. Republicans Debbie Bledsoe, Kent Fisk and Marc Huber, along with Democrat Earl Smith, will face off. There are three at-large seats on the council, and all of the candidates are newcomers to the office.
All four debates will begin at 6 p.m. and will be open to the public. Daily Reporter editor David Hill will moderate, and the events will also be streamed live at www.greenfieldreporter.com. Videos of the debates will remain on the website for viewing any time.
“I think it’s a chance to really see and hear from the candidates and to see their thoughtful answers and expressions,” said Dianne Osborne, director of the library. “Campaign ads, signs and everything can only do so much, but to really hear them speak is meaningful. There’s a lot at stake this year.”
Osborne added that she is pleased the debates among so many candidates were able to be coordinated.
“I think it’s everyone’s civic duty to find out as much as they can about each candidate,” she said.
Several other groups are planning debates and candidate forums in the coming weeks.
Two events are set for Mt. Vernon area voters to get to know school board candidates. Forums are planned for Monday and Oct. 29 at the high school auditorium.
The Eastern Hancock Elementary Parent Teacher Organization has scheduled a forum for school board candidates Oct. 4 at the elementary library.
The three candidates vying for Indiana’s 6th Congressional District seat will debate Tuesday at Ball State University. Republican Luke Messer, Democrat Brad Bookout and Libertarian Rex Bell will answer questions from moderator Phil Breman, assistant professor of telecommunications at BSU and former NBC News correspondent.
Several other debates are planned across the state for the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races. And the first of four high-stakes presidential debates is scheduled next Wednesday.