Town winners hope to bring change

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2023

Scott Jones

McCORDSVILLE — Two challengers who defeated two incumbents in a McCordsville Republican primary election say their victories represent a desire for change in how the town is run.

The four-way race that culminated May 3 was over two at-large seats on McCordsville Town Council. Scott Jones had a commanding lead with 391 votes, over 100 more than fellow winner Bryan Burney, who had 278. That’s where the race got a lot tighter — with Chad Gooding tallying 273 and Tom Strayer drawing 268.

Jones said he was humbled and surprised by the amount of votes he received.

“I thought I had a decent chance, but I was a little thankful for the margin of people that turned out,” he said.

He feels many voters share his opposition toward the large industrial developments on McCordsville’s south side.

“I think that was a pretty hot-button issue for a lot of folks,” Jones said.

Jones noted he spent very little money on his campaign.

“It was just a couple hundred bucks on some signs,” he said. “But I did my very best to get out and talk to as many people as possible. I was very active on social media and taking questions from people personally. I was very quick to respond and engage with people.”

Burney and Jones will face Democrats Linda Robinson and Andrea Yovanovich in the general election in November.

Jones said he plans to attend town council meetings through then and intends to share their agendas online along with items that will affect the town.

“I truly do know that the town makes an effort in putting the agendas in the newsletters that go out and on the Facebook page,” he said. “I just think as a council member my job is to represent what residents in the town want. From a personal standpoint, I feel I need to go above and beyond to pursue public opinion and consensus on specific projects.”

Burney called his outcome from the election “a squeaker.”

“I knew it would be close,” he said. “Whether it’s one vote or 100 votes, it’s enough votes. I think it’s nice when that many people you don’t know will give you their trust to run their town.”

The overall turnout was low, he also noted.

County-wide, less than 15% of registered voters cast a ballot in the primary.

“I knew it would be low,” Burney said. “I really wish more people would participate.”

Burney thinks major factors in his victory were his alliance with Jones and an endorsement from Greg Brewer, a McCordsville Town Council member who narrowly beat Burney for his former District 2 seat in 2019.

Burney shares Jones’ stance toward the town’s industrial projects and also has concerns about home-building in McCordsville.

“The rapid pace of residential development is overrunning the town,” Burney said, adding it’s outpacing McCordsville’s ability to have the necessary infrastructure and services ready when residents move in.

“My thing was developers need to pay their fair share,” he said. “…There’s going to have to be some sort of upfront cash coming into town, or it makes absolutely no sense for the town to do development.”

Strayer, who has served on the town council for 19 years, said the primary results have left him feeling uneasy about McCordsville’s future, particularly after points made at a debate before the election and comments he’s read online.

“I am concerned for the town based on what people said in the debate and what social media has said,” Strayer said.

Looking back on his time in office, he’s glad to have been part of a project now underway that sets out to give McCordsville a unique identity.

“Town center is actually beginning to happen, and that is the only thing that is really going to pull McCordsville up to where it needs to be as far as the infrastructure and the amenities that the town needs,” Strayer said.

Gooding has been on the council since January, following a Republican caucus that tapped him to replace Barry Wood, who stepped down at the end of 2021 with a year left in his term.

“I’m disappointed for the town that Tom Strayer won’t be on the board,” Gooding said. “He’s a really good guy, put a lot of time in and always had the best interest of the town at heart. I was really just getting started, so it’s hard to have as much of an impact as those guys have had in a really good way.”