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Incumbents hold on to Hamilton County Council seats

May 3, 2016

Longtime Hamilton County Council member Rick McKinney will serve another term on the fiscal governing body, but he’ll have to do it alongside the candidate he accused of stealing his campaign signs.

McKinney received 25 percent of the vote for the three at-large council seats, with fellow long-serving council member Brad Beaver taking 21 percent of the votes and Fall Creek Township Trustee Jeff Hern receiving 23 percent.

Retiring Fishers Police Chief George Kehl and Bill Dennis lost with 20 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

During the final two weeks of the campaign, McKinney contacted the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office to report three missing campaign banners located at 116th Street and Olio Road, 116th Street and Cumberland Road and 135th Street and State Road 37.

Hern’s cell phone was found near the 116th Street and Cumberland Road location, and Hern confirmed to investigators that his cell phone was missing.

The Sheriff’s department listed Hern as a suspect in the case, but no formal charges were filed and the case was sent to the Hamilton County prosecutor’s office. Last week—after McKinney publicly criticized the office for not taking action—the prosecutor’s office announced it would request a special prosecutor to investigate the case.

“Citizens need to know whether or not they are electing a possible thief to a higher office than the one he currently holds,” McKinney said in a statement at the time.

Hern has not made comments publicly about the case. No charges have been filed.

Beaver and McKinney found themselves with primary opponents after taking heat for their votes against providing $3 million in funding for a countywide public safety training facility in Noblesville.

Both council members argued that the county isn’t responsible for fire protection, which would have been a primary component of the training center, so it shouldn’t spend significant dollars on a facility tied to that.

Westfield, Fishers, Noblesville and Carmel had agreed to each provide $40,000 annually for operating costs, but Beaver and McKinney suggested the cities pay a higher portion of the costs.

Kehl and Hern both publicly urged the council to support the training facility when the decision was made in August.

One of three at-large council seats became open after Jim Belden died Feb. 14 at the age of 77. Belden had served on the council since 1992.

In the Hamilton County Commissioner District 3 race, incumbent Mark Heirbrandt defeated challenger Bill Smythe with 57 percent of the votes.

Smythe, owner of Claude & Annie’s, decided to run against Heirbrandt after disagreeing with how the county commissioners approached the State Road 37 project.

Heirbrandt has been a strong supporter of the $124 million dollar project that would transform the corridor from 126th to 146th streets into a free-flowing parkway in the coming years. Smythe formed and previously led the group of business owners concerned about the proposed construction.

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