HANCOCK COUNTY — It was a busy day at polls throughout Hancock County on Tuesday, as voters gathered to cast their votes in a number of closely contested races.
Among them, four candidates were vying for three seats on the Buck Creek Township Advisory Board, including two Republican incumbents and a both a Democratic and Republican challenger.
Two seats in the state’s House of Representatives serving Hancock County were also up for grabs, in Districts 54 and 88.
By 10 p.m. Tuesday the three Republicans had secured the most votes on the Buck Creek Township board, separated by narrow margins.
Erin Harsin-Jordan had 27.34 percent of the vote, Matthew Kelly had 26.85 percent and Scott Whitehouse had 26.57 percent, with Democratic challenger Marian Hensley garnering 19.24 percent.
In District 88 of the state represntative race, incumbent Chris Jeter (R) was leading challenger Donna Griffin (D) with 63.06 percent of the vote, compared to 36.94 percent for Griffin.
In District 54, Cory Criswell (R) carried a wide lead over challenger Nan Polk (D), with 80.68 percent of the vote.
In Buck Township, the winning candidates will represent a quickly growing part of Hancock County.
The township — located in the middle of Hancock County’s west side — has drawn multiple large developments over the last several years, most of which for distribution and logistics purposes. The board advises the township trustee, who leads township government and its functions, including providing fire protection and emergency medical services, maintaining pioneer cemeteries and providing financial assistance to township residents in need.
Kelly, a Hancock County Sheriff’s deputy, has said the township’s public safety services are struggling to keep up with the growth. He had said his goals, if re-elected, would be to increase pay for firefighters and grow their ranks, with an emphasis on code enforcement to keep tabs on new construction.
Harsin-Jordan, a former firefighter who now serves as the nurse at McCordsville Elementary School, told the Daily Reporter her biggest goal if elected would be to add more firefighters to keep up with development in the township.
Whitehouse had expressed concern about the township’s rapid development as well as tax breaks for those developments, and said he’d like to find a way for companies to pitch in more for public safety.
In District 88 — which includes the central-western and northwestern parts of Hancock County, in addition to parts of Hamilton, Madison and Marion counties — Jeter had said he looks forward to serving another term in the House, if elected.
Jeter is a U.S. Navy veteran and Navy Reserve officer and a partner at a Fishers law firm.
After his longtime House predecessor, Brian Bosma, announced he’d be stepping down from the state legislature in 2020, Jeter won the primary and then a Republican caucus in August of that year before winning the general election.
“We’ve touched on a lot of the things I wanted to do when I ran….but I think there’s a lot still to be done, and so I’m going to run for another term and see if we can knock out even some more good stuff,” he said during his most recent campaign.
In District 54, fellow Republican Cory Criswell also expressed enthusasim at the prospect of continuing his role.
“I have learned so much and have been afforded the opportunity to be around many people with my experiences, that I feel qualified to represent and relate to the people of District 54,” he said during his primary campaign.
The seat was up for grabs due to the retirement of Rep. Tom Saunders, a Republican who has served since 1996. Due to 2020 redistricting, Blue River Township in southeastern Hancock County is included in the district for the first time.
Around the spring primaries, Criswell had said that the local workforce and broadband connectivity are the most significant issues facing the district faces, and that technology and connectivity have never been more important for farming, business and education.
“I think it is important that even living in a rural community or on a farm in the middle of the district, you should be able to have proper capabilities, said Criswell, who beat out seven other candidates in May’s Republican primary on the road to winning Tuesday’s election.
Greenfield Daily Reporter staff member Mitchell Kirk contributed to this report