2 McCordsville officials stepping down


McCORDSVILLE — Two officials with nearly four decades of experience in town government are preparing to step down.

With over four terms on the town council and currently the council’s president, Barry Wood announced his resignation will be effective at the end of the year, with a year left in his current term.

Tonya Galbraith announced she is retiring effective April 1, 2022, wrapping up what will be 17 years as McCordsville town manager.

Barry Wood

Wood was appointed to the town council to fill a vacancy in 2001 before getting elected the following year. The Republican representing the town at large has been re-elected ever since.

He was living on McCordsville’s northern edge shortly before joining the council, at a time when Hamilton County government was considering expanding 96th Street/Hancock County Road 1000N, which would’ve taken much of his front yard. Wood and others convinced Hamilton County officials to call off the plan, and it was that exposure to government along with the McCordsville Town Council needing to fill its vacancy that drove him to serve.

The town’s population was much smaller then, Wood recalled. Council members met in an annex trailer at a former town hall.

Other aspects were similar to present day, he continued. Council meetings often included proposals for housing developments, and it wasn’t uncommon for sessions to extend late into the evenings, both of which are traits of current meetings.

“We’ve had some good growth,” Wood said. “I haven’t agreed on everything, but that’s the way it’s supposed to work. We’ve had a lot of good people go through there. I think we got a great council now as far as knowledge and backgrounds that people bring in.”

When he looks back on his time with the town, highlights include growing community activities over the years and Hancock Health bringing a wellness center, which he said has been a boon. And lately there’s been preparations for McCordsville’s future town center, a long-range, multi-use development on over 100 acres in the heart of town that will kick off soon with two four-story apartment buildings.

Wood noted the role has come with plenty of challenges as well.

“You can’t make everybody happy,” he said. “That’s just something you got to deal with. That’s not my nature. One of my strengths is harmony, and so I’m always trying to find the middle ground on everything. Sometimes you just can’t do it. I think that’s one of the main reasons why I’m stepping away at this point. It’s one of those jobs that can be very thankless.”

He also wishes the town’s relationship with Hancock County government was better. Wood said more could be accomplished, especially when it comes to improving Mt. Comfort Road, the main thoroughfare in McCordsville and western Hancock County.

Of the several elections Wood ran in, he estimated he was contested in about half of the primaries, and only once against a Democrat in the general election.

“I’ve just been doing it a long time, and it’s time for a new voice,” he said. “I think new ideas are needed from time to time. I think there needs to be a turning-over of that so you can get those new ideas.

“I’m just kind of tired, too,” Wood continued. “It does take some time to do the job correctly. It’s not just one meeting a month. It’s a lot of meetings a month, and a lot of emails, and a lot of research. I’m ready to relax a little bit.”

Wood also serves on the town’s plan commission and architectural review committee. He’s served as a liaison to the local library system and town’s police force as well.

The Hancock County Republican Party will have 30 days from Wood’s resignation to the Hancock County clerk to replace him for the remaining year of his term. State law calls for the party to hold a caucus during which McCordsville’s Republican precinct committee representatives will select his replacement.

Eligible candidates interested in the position must complete a CEB-5, available at in.gov/sos/elections/election-administrators-portal/election-forms.

Tonya Galbraith

Galbraith said McCordsville and its government is far different today than it was when she started as town manager in 2005. Its population was under 1,200, while most recent estimates place the figure close to 8,000. Hancock County still had jurisdiction over planning and zoning in town.

“Obviously we’ve grown a lot since then and continue that trend,” Galbraith said. “It was a different place. That’s what made it a challenge, because everyone knew what the potential of McCordsville could eventually be and it was trending that way until the recession (of 2008). Now we’re moving back up.”

One of the parts of her career that she’s most proud of is being part of forming the town’s planning and building department for taking on those responsibilities from the county. The town formed a steering committee and developed its own comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance in 2010 and 2011.

“Because we knew at the time, when there’s a recession, it gets better,” Galbraith said. “And we always knew that when everything came out of the recession, growth would still occur, and we wanted to be in control of that growth, and we wanted to be in control of our own planning review, and inspections, and engineering, and that’s worked out really well for us.”

She’s also proud of the plans for the town center, which she recalled first starting 14 years ago before evolving into the iteration it is today.

“We always knew that any vibrant municipality has to have a center,” she said. “It has to have a heart. We’ve been looking for that heart for a long time.”

Maintaining all of the town’s growth has been a challenge, she said, particularly when it comes to the need to improve Mt. Comfort Road so that it can handle the increasing traffic. Officials have plenty of plans and ideas, she continued, but they require a lot of funds.

“We’re only allowed so much money for a small town with great, big issues,” Galbraith said. “We’re working on all of that. It’s a daily process.”

As she prepares to step down at a time of much growth, she said the town is well-positioned to continue it in an effective way.

“That’s why it was time,” she said. “My goal was to see something happen with town center. I really, really didn’t want to step down until there would really be a plan for town center. There is that plan now, so it’s really time now to turn over the keys and let someone else drive and take it the rest of the way.”

While Galbraith won’t be serving in government any longer, she does plan to continue serving the community. She currently serves on the Hancock Health Foundation Board and is considering other volunteer opportunities as well.

“There’s a lot to pack in to the next five-and-a-half months, and I plan to do that,” she said. “I’ll be working hard for this town until April 1, and hopefully continue. I’ll always have a passion for the town of McCordsville; I hope to continue that.”