Fewell beats LaFavers nearly 5-to-1

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GREENFIELD — The voters have spoken, and they want four more years of Chuck Fewell.

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The incumbent mayor of Greenfield, who’s been in office since late 2013, handily defeated Democrat Zachary LaFavers. Fewell won with 82.5 percent of the vote to 17.5 percent for LaFavers.

Fewell said he’s pleased voters have confidence in him moving the city forward into another term.

“We worked hard; we did just what we said: We’re going to keep going the same way we did for the first six years that I’ve been here,” Fewell said. “And I think people are satisfied with the way the city’s prospering, the way it’s growing. We have jobs available. We’re going to keep the amenities going.”

It was the first time a Democrat has run against the Republican mayor. Fewell first won a GOP caucus in 2013 after the death of Dick Pasco, and he ran against Judy Swift in the 2015 Republican primary. He was unopposed that fall.

Fewell, 76, ran on a platform of continuing on the success and growth the city has seen in his past six years as mayor. Greenfield was part of a winning regional Stellar Communities designation; the city has paved more streets than it had in the past through a state grant program; and a major manufacturer, BeijingWest Industries, built a factory in town and pledges to hire about 450 employees.

Now entering another four years in office, that would make Fewell the longest-serving mayor since Democrat Keith McClarnon, who served five terms from 1976 to 1995.

In Fewell’s next term, he said Greenfield will not only see state grant dollars come through the Stellar designation for new amenities, but he will also look into more affordable housing options for residents.

Soon, Fewell said he will meet with his department heads to make sure they plan on staying in the administration for another four years. He hasn’t heard from any who want to leave.

“If you have a happy crew, they’re going to do good work for you all the way through,” Fewell said.

LaFavers, a 22-year-old Greenfield native, said although he only received about a sixth of the vote, he’s glad he did garner some support in the election without doing much campaigning. LaFavers didn’t raise any money and his only public appearance was in a candidate forum last month.

LaFavers acknowledged then that he didn’t have much of a chance at victory. He said his lack of participation in local Democratic Party events — such as the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner fundraiser and various parades and festivals — “angered” some in the party. LaFavers said he might’ve received more votes if he campaigned more actively throughout the year.

Politics has always been a passion for LaFavers, who’s also an Indiana Army National Guardsman and apprentice for Heat & Frost Insulators Local 18, an Indianapolis-based trade union. He unsuccessfully ran for Hancock County Council as a write-in candidate in 2016 and lost in a Hancock County commissioner race in 2018.

This year’s election, however, will probably be LaFavers’ last for a while, he said. He wants to wait until he gets more experience and focus more on his occupation before getting back into local politics.

The total number of votes cast in the mayoral race — 2,298 — is the lowest in a contested Greenfield mayoral election in decades. In each municipal general election since 1959 — excluding 2015 when Fewell ran unopposed — close to 3,000 or more residents have voted for mayor, according to Daily Reporter archives and the county election office. In 1959, nearly 3,150 voters cast ballots for mayor.

Barely 9,000 residents lived in Greenfield in 1959; the population is roughly three times that today.

In the 1929 Greenfield mayoral race between Republican Arthur Downing and Democrat Paul Boyd, 2,556 residents voted in the city, which had a population of 4,200 people, according to Daily Reporter archives.

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[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”How You Voted” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Chuck Fewell (R);1,895

Zachary LaFavers (D);403

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