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Deputy mayor joins GOP race to succeed Ballard

January 19, 2015

A Republican primary contest is shaping up in the Indianapolis mayoral election, with Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams' announcement that he intends to run.

Olgen’s son Aaron Williams said Monday morning that the elder Williams would file his organizational papers within the week. Marion County Republican Party Chairman Kyle Walker said Monday afternoon that he knew of another person who would file to run later this week, but would not identify the candidate.

No candidate would be formally endorsed by the party until slating on Jan. 31, Walker said. In the slating process, precinct committee members choose their party's candidate for endorsement, potentially avoiding a primary contest. However, candidates aren't required to take part, and can run in a primary instead.

“Most people in the party are a little upset with the current party leadership,” Aaron Williams said. He suggested that although slating hasn’t yet occurred, party leadership favors one candidate over the others. “The party has their person they’re going to run. We are not that candidate.”

The deadline for slating submissions is 5 p.m. Wednesday, Walker said, and Williams or any other candidate could still be considered.

Williams said his father was encouraged by various people over the past week to get into the race and that he had a “very positive conversation” on Saturday with Mayor Greg Ballard.

Ballard’s decision last fall not to seek a third term prompted several high-profile Republicans, including former state party chairman Murray Clark and Sen. Jim Merritt, to consider running against Democrat Joe Hogsett. None of the most-talked-about Republican contenders followed through.

The delay in settling on a candidate for the Nov. 3 election seems to have stirred unrest. One of the GOP’s disgruntled foot soldiers is Terry Michael, a precinct committeeman who filed as a candidate last week. Michael said he filed because he believed Williams wasn’t running, and Michael said he lacks confidence in party leadership’s choice of candidates.

Michael said Monday that he’ll withdraw as long as Williams stays in the race, regardless of the outcome of the party’s slating convention on Jan. 31. “He is the right man for the job,” Michael said. “He will have my complete and utter support.”

Olgen Williams, 67, is deputy mayor for neighborhoods. He's a longtime resident of the Haughville neighborhood and is the former executive director of Christamore House, a not-for-profit neighborhood center. As a felon who received a presidential pardon, he's been an advocate for ex-offenders.

Michael said he and other Republicans see Williams as a candidate who would unite the community around preventing violence. "There's no one else who should be running for this office," he said.

Another community leader on crime, the Rev. Charles Harrison of the Ten Point Coalition, has formed an exploratory committee.

Aaron Williams said there's still time for his father to submit his name to the party for consideration at the slating convention, but he hasn't decided whether to go through that process.

The first GOP candidate to file was Jocelyn-Tandy Adande. The phone number listed on her statement of organization wasn’t working as of Monday morning.

Clarification: This story was updated to clarify the endorsement process and how it relates to slating.

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