Scott Fadness won Fishers’ first mayoral primary Tuesday, edging out five Republican candidates—including longtime former Town Council President Walt Kelly—seeking to lead the fast-growing town as it becomes a city.
Fadness and Kelly led the field, garnering more than 88 percent of the 9,100-plus votes cast. The final tally: 4,274 for Fadness, 3,881 for Kelly and 488 for current Town Council member Renee Cox. The other three candidates collected a total of 548 votes.
No Democrats were on the ballot, but the party still could nominate a candidate before the November general election. Even so, Fadness remains the presumptive favorite given the area’s overwhelmingly Republican population.
Hamilton County voter turnout Tuesday was an anemic 12 percent countywide, with fewer than 25,000 ballots cast despite the historic mayor's race in Fishers.
Fadness, 32, has been Fishers’ appointed town manager since 2011. In that role, he oversees day-to-day operations and has steered efforts to build a vibrant downtown that draws businesses and residents alike.
“I’m excited to get to work moving Fishers forward,” he said Tuesday night after greeting supporters at his campaign headquarters. “This is a monumental night.”
Kelly was critical of the town’s investment in downtown redevelopment, saying officials should focus instead on parks, trails and other neighborhood amenities that are important to bedroom communities like Fishers. He led the council for 17 years, resigning in 2001 to become managing partner of a large accounting firm.
Voters clearly wanted more. In 2012, residents approved a ballot measure turning the town of 80,000 into a second-class city with an elected mayor. The change takes effect Jan. 1.
The Fishers Town Council also is growing as a result of the transition. The council is gaining just two seats for a total of nine (six districts and three at-large), but at least five new members will join its ranks.
Incumbent councilor Mike Colby lost to GOP challenger Selena Stoller by a dozen votes in Fishers’ northwest district; she’ll face Democrat Kent Nelson in November.
Eric Moeller won the nomination for Cox’s north-central district seat. He is unopposed in the general election.
Republican candidates Todd Zimmerman, Cecilia Coble and Rich Block received the most votes for the three at-large seats. No Democrats are running.
In other council races:
— Incumbent David George outlasted challenger Bill Brown, receiving about 55 percent of the votes cast in the southwest district. He faces Democrat Justin Kilgore in November.
— Longtime Councilor Stuart Easley eked out a 25-vote victory over former Greenfield Mayor Brad DeReamer in the northeast district race, which drew four GOP candidates. He doesn’t have a Democratic opponent.
— Council President John Weingardt didn’t have a primary opponent in his south-central district, but he will face Democrat Greg Purvis in the general election.
— Vice President Pete Peterson is unopposed in his southwest district—also home to longtime council leader Scott Faultless, who did not run for re-election.