2023 Year in Review: Hogsett wins third term, Finkam to succeed Brainard

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The 2023 municipal elections saw few surprises in central Indiana, with Republicans maintaining leads in the suburbs while Democrats kept control of cities.

In Indianapolis, Democrats swept. Incumbent Joe Hogsett had a 20-point win over Republican Jefferson Shreve. Shreve dwarfed Hogsett’s campaign spending with the $13.5 million he self-funded, but Hogsett managed to win with a campaign record $6.16 million.

Following the retirement of seven-term Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard, the city will remain Republican-run. Sue Finkam, a city councilor and owner of a public relations and marketing firm, bested fellow councilor Miles Nelson, a Democrat, by 15 points.

Both cities had contested mayoral primaries. Finkam fended off Kevin “Woody” Rider and Fred Glynn, Hogsett’s strongest primary challenger was State Rep. Robin Shackleford, and Shreve faced political commentator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz.

Democrats on the Indianapolis City-County Council also maintained the supermajority. The GOP did manage to pick up one seat because independent Ethan Evans decided not to seek re-election and Republican Derek Cahill won the newly drawn District 23, which was expected to tilt red.

The real shakeup for the governing body came in the primary, where three incumbent Democrats, including the council vice president, were unseated. The council will have eight new faces in January.

The status-quo wins dashed Democratic hopes of making inroads in Hamilton County and Republican hopes of more influence in
Marion County.

Democrats had a good showing in two of Marion County’s excluded cities.

In Lawrence, Deb Whitfield made history by becoming the first Black mayor in Marion County history. Whitfield defeated Deputy Mayor Dave Hofmann, which flipped the Mayor’s Office from red to blue.

In Beech Grove, Democrat James Coffman bested Republican Rick Skirvin.

Mayoral races in northern suburbs were largely uncontested after the primary. Former TV news anchor John Stehr, a Republican, beat Jane Burgess in the primary to represent Zionsville after Democrat Emily Styron chose not to run for a second term. Scott Willis, a Republican first-term city councilor, will succeed retiring Republican Westfield Mayor Andy Cook.•

Check out more year-in-review stories from 2023.

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