PRIMARY PRIME TIME: Election candidates tout backgrounds, discuss issues at forum

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A full room of patrons listen during Wednesday evening’s candidate forum at the Hancock County Public Library. Wednesday, April 6, 2022.

Tom Russo| Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD — Voters flocked to the Hancock County Public Library Wednesday night to check out the catalog of candidates vying to be their leaders.

The Constitution Committee organized the forum featuring nine Republicans, most of whom face competition in the primary election. They spent the evening talking about their backgrounds and community involvement while also taking questions from the audience on topics including development, public safety and other challenges facing the county.

Participating were county prosecutor candidates Grey Chandler and Brent Eaton, county commissioner district 2 candidates Marc Huber and Gary McDaniel, county council district 1 candidates Jeannine Gray and Scott Ruble, council district 2 candidate Mary Noe, and council district 4 candidates Bill Bolander and Scott Wooldridge.

The Constitution Committee formed a little over a year ago with the goal of connecting residents in Hancock County and Indiana’s Sixth Congressional District to champion limiting the power of government and preserving the U.S. and Indiana constitutions. Committee member Meghan Carver moderated the forum.

The county prosecutor race is made up of an incumbent who says he turned the office around and has been effectively fighting for justice ever since. His challenger counters that there’s mounting evidence for need of a change.

Brent Eaton, in the final year of his second term as prosecutor, said he spent the beginning of his tenure fixing what he described as the mismanagement and failure that preceded him before implementing an aggressive plan for improvements.

“We have been successful at putting that behind us and giving this community an office they can feel proud of,” Eaton said. “…We’re one of the safest places in America, and we want to keep it that way.”

His opponent, Grey Chandler, a former deputy prosecutor in Marion, Hancock and Madison counties, has been publicly endorsed by nearly 30 law enforcement officers in Hancock County.

“We need change,” Chandler said. “The evidence of the need for change is in law enforcement and what they’ve been saying. They are vocal that we need change, and they are vocal about supporting my campaign for prosecutor.”

The three-member Hancock County Board of Commissioners is county government’s executive body. While members represent specific districts, all eligible voters in the county are able to cast ballots for candidates regardless of where they live.

The commissioner district 2 race is marked by different stances on industrial development in the western part of the county. Incumbent Marc Huber has been a supporter of the building boom and pointed to the $35 million estimated to come to the county in the coming years via agreements with industrial developers that will be able to be used for public safety and education operations.

“I’m looking to run for one more term to finish up some of the things we started,” Huber said, adding he’s proud of being part of bringing the new jail to the county that’s opening soon along with adding new sheriff’s deputies and earmarking funds for mental health services.

McDaniel, a Greenfield City Council member challenging Huber, said the dozens of large logistical buildings that have come or are coming to the county, most of which without occupants immediately secured, demand more deliberation.

“I think it’s time we pause and take inventory of the financial costs and the quality of life we’ve lost,” McDaniel said. “This seems simple yet has not been done. Poor planning almost always creates poor results.”

The seven-member Hancock County Council is county government’s fiscal body, and candidates can only appear on the ballots of those living in the districts they represent. Gray, the council district 1 incumbent, said she’s proud of having been part of improving the pension, raises and additional positions for the sheriff’s department during her time in office.

“As a council, we have been able to maintain responsible cash reserves, which directly affects our county’s credit rating,” added Gray, a resident of Shirley in the northeastern part of the county.

Ruble, Gray’s challenger, owns a commercial landscape company with his wife and is a longtime county resident while a newcomer to politics.

“I’d like to use my 30-plus years of business experience to help make the county make good, sound financial decisions,” Ruble said.

Like the commissioner race, the contest for council district 4 in the southern and southwestern parts of the county also involves alternate stances toward industrial development in the county. Bolander, who has represented the district for 32 years, has supported that development.

“If you don’t grow, you die,” Bolander said.

Wooldridge, a lawyer running against Bolander, thinks the county has been overly generous with the tax breaks it’s offered to developers, particularly in regard to the term lengths for those incentives.

“You don’t have to do a 10-year agreement every time,” said Wooldridge, who also serves on the sheriff’s department’s merit board and has been involved in hiring new deputies.

Noe is wrapping up a term on the county council representing district 2 in the western and northwestern parts of the county. She also served on the council from 1988 through 1994 before serving as Vernon Township assessor and Hancock County assessor. She said the county is in great need of a post-high school vocational education facility, plans for which have recently started ramping up.

“Not every child that graduates is college-bound,” Noe said. “…We need all kinds of jobs that you can go to a vocational school for and get a two-year degree and go out and make a living wage.”

Noe is running unopposed in the primary but will face Democrat Frank Rock Jr. in the general election later this year. Rock is also unopposed in the primary. A place was set for him at Wednesday’s forum, but he did not attend. In an email to the Daily Reporter, he extended his apologies to the Constitution Committee and said he had a last-minute scheduling conflict with a meeting he chaired involving a religious organization he’s a part of.

The primary is May 3, and early voting continues at the Hancock County Annex in downtown Greenfield.

2022 PRIMARY ELECTION (MAY 3)

EARLY VOTE CENTERS:

Hancock County Annex

111 American Legion Place, Greenfield

11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays April 5-29

8 a.m. to noon Monday, May 2

8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 23 and 30

Hancock County Public Libraries

Greenfield — 900 W. McKenzie Road

Sugar Creek — 5731 W. U.S. 52, New Palestine

11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays April 18-29

8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 23 and 30

Noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 24 and May 1

Mt. Vernon School Community School Corporation Administration Building

1806 W. State Road 234, Fortville

8 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays April 18-29

8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 23 and 30

Buck Creek Fire Department

5809 W. Airport Blvd., Greenfield

8 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays April 18-29

8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 23 and 30

Brown’s Chapel

994 N. 600E, Greenfield

8 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays April 18-29

8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 23 and 30

2022 PRIMARY ELECTION DAY VOTE CENTERS

6 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 3

All of the above locations, PLUS:

Cross of Grace Church, 3519 S. 600W, Greenfield

Fortville Community Center, 400 W. Church St., Fortville

Nameless Creek Youth Camp, 2675 S. 600E, Greenfield

NineStar North, 2331 E. 600N, Greenfield

McCordsville Town Hall, 6280 W. 800N, McCordsville

Wilkinson Church of Christ, 7293 N. State Road 109, Wilkinson

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