GREENSBURG – The primary election on May 6 so far will have only one race, for Sandcreek Township Trustee, that will feature a contest among both Democrats and Republicans.
The primary election allows the electorate to choose which candidates within a political party will vie for public office in the fall against candidates from other parties.
Many major offices, including superior court judge, prosecuting attorney, sheriff and county council, feature no contests in the primary, meaning that no more than one candidate per party has indicated a willingness to seek the office.
Even worse, in many races — superior court judge, recorder, coroner, assessor, county council and others — at least one party, mostly the Democratic Party, has not filed any candidate at all. Until recently, Republicans did not have a candidate for sheriff, but on Jan. 31, Deputy Steven A. Synder filed paperwork to seek the office. As of Thursday afternoon, he was unopposed in the Republican primary.
Candidates for political office must file their paperwork by noon today to be on the ballot for the primary election.
All parties, including third parties such as Libertarians, have until July 3 to select a candidate through caucus or party chair to assure a contest in the general election this fall.
Republican Party Chair Larry Meyer said he thinks the lack of competition on the Republican ticket indicates the high quality of incumbents.
“However,” he said, “I would like to see more people jump in and get involved.”
Republicans have contested primary races for trustee in Adams, Sandcreek and Washington townships; Fugit Township Advisory Board; and County Commissioner District 2, where incumbent Jerome A. Buening will be challenged by Betty Whipple Louden.
Meyer said that to fill open spots he calls people who he thinks would make good candidates, and in the general election, he expects Republicans to contest every race. With the exception of County Council District 3, where as of Thursday afternoon only Democrat Kenneth L. Owens had filed; trustee positions in Marion and Saltcreek townships, where only Democrats had filed; and Sandcreek Township Advisory Board, where only three Democrats had filed, Republicans already have candidates for all offices in the fall.
“I think we’re going to be in really good shape,” Meyer said.
Local Democrats, on the other hand, have a little more work ahead of them, as they have no candidates for some major local offices, including superior court judge, coroner, assessor and County Council districts 2 and 4.
Democrats have only one contested race in the primary, for Sandcreek Township Trustee, where incumbent Sandi Gatewood is competing with Gail Snyder. Gatewood’s late husband, Democrat Paul “Bill” Gatewood, had served as Sandcreek Township Trustee for 42 years when he died in 2012. Sandi Gatewood, who had served as his clerk, was appointed trustee in June 2012.
Decatur County Democratic Party Chair Hank Martin said parties in general struggle to find qualified and interested candidates, especially when voices on cable news shows keep calling government the problem rather than the solution.
“I think it’s a challenge for both parties to try to excite folks to become engaged in government,” Martin said.
Martin ran twice for Greensburg City Council many years ago and knows that running for office requires a major commitment — though it also can be very rewarding.
A lot of younger people got involved in the political process because of President Barack Obama, and Martin said that he hopes to tap into that energized part of the electorate and that social issues that are being discussed in the state and nation prompt more people to make their voices heard and run for office.
He said he hopes to have a full slate of candidates for the general election.
“We’re going to continue to seek out qualified candidates,” Martin said.
Candidates can withdraw from the election until Feb. 14.
On primary election day, May 6, polls will be open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Absentee voting will begin April 8.
Unfilled slots for the general election in the fall can be filled by the party chair or caucus until July 3.
Contact: Boris Ladwig 812-663-3111 x7401; firstname.lastname@example.org