County race for 2022 gets its first entrant

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By Jessica Karins | Daily Reporter

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GREENFIELD — Greenfield City Council member Gary McDaniel will seek election to the Hancock County Board of Commissioners District 2 seat in the 2022 election, potentially opposing incumbent Marc Huber in the Republican primary.

“I’ve served on a lot of different boards and commissions during my time with the city,” McDaniel said. “It’s time for something new.”

McDaniel said he has wanted to run for the position and talked it over with incumbent Huber during Huber’s first term, but decided not to because Huber was planning to run for a second term. This time, McDaniel said, he decided to run.

Huber said he has not made a decision yet on whether to run for a third term and would do so within the next few weeks.

“Marc and I have always gotten along,” McDaniel said, adding that he is not planning to run a negative campaign if Huber is also in the race.

McDaniel originally got involved with local organizing through his homeowners association, where he has served for 23 years, many of them as president. He was elected to his third term on the city council in 2019 and has served as council president.

He currently serves as the council’s budget chairman as well as on the planning and zoning committee. He is also on the joint city-county committee on economic development.

McDaniel is also a longtime employee of Keihin North America and the former owner of a massage business.

With ongoing growth and redevelopment in all parts of Hancock County, McDaniel hopes to help guide the direction of the county’s future.

Development in the Mt. Comfort area, in particular, has attracted widespread controversy among both residents and elected officials. McDaniel said he’d like the buildings going up in the area to include multiple types of business, such as manufacturing, instead of focusing mostly on warehouses.

Other issues McDaniel said he wants to focus on include tax abatements, tax-increment financing districts, and affordable housing, all of which he has experience with from his time on city council. He also hopes to preserve Hancock County’s unique identity.

“We don’t want to be Fishers or Carmel,” McDaniel said.

Huber and his fellow commissioners have been in the middle of the debates on the explosive development occurring in the western part of the county, and it figures to be a major issue in the election. Huber has been critical of the county’s development process in the past and has called for more scrutiny of projects, especially speculative buildings.

Greenfield City Council president Dan Riley said he hopes McDaniel will be elected to the board of commissioners.

“Gary’s a very hardworking person, and I think that he would do well as a county commissioner,” Riley said.

Riley said during their time on the council together, McDaniel has frequently taken a leadership role on issues involving planning and building, working closely with city staff and providing information to the other members of the council. That role, he said, would make McDaniel a good fit for the board of commissioners as it continues to frequently make decisions about future development in the county.

“They need some of that leadership,” Riley said.

Council member Jeff Lowder said he didn’t want to comment on a potential primary contest between fellow Republicans, but also said McDaniel has taken a leadership role on the council when dealing with planning decisions.

“He’s a fine fellow to work with,” Lowder said.

McDaniel, who missed a planned opportunity to kick off his campaign at this year’s Riley Festival due to a positive COVID-19 test, said he will be holding small meet-and-greets around the county in the next few months to raise awareness of his campaign. He hopes to emphasize preserving the “quality of place” that he said attracted him to Hancock County when he moved to the area 25 years ago.

“I love Hancock County, and this is something I enjoy,” McDaniel said of his career in local government. “It just comes down to what the people want.”

Formal registration for the 2022 election begins in January. The primary will be held in May and the general election in November.

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