Area mayoral races top ballots in Tuesday’s primary election

Mayoral candidates in Marion and Hamilton counties face their first hurdle this election season as voters head to the polls for Tuesday’s primary election.

In Marion County, while incumbent Joe Hogsett, a Democrat, and Republican Jim Merritt have been slated as front runners by their respective parties, voters will stay have choices in the primary. And in Hamilton County, where few Democrats run for office, Tuesday’s contest could be the only hurdle candidates face. The Republican primary is often considered the election in the northern suburbs.  

Marion County

In Marion County, the mayor’s race is top billing—though the outcomes are not expected to be a surprise.

Joe Hogsett, the incumbent Democratic mayor, has his party’s endorsement in the Democratic Party. And on the Republican side, state Sen. Jim Merritt has secured his party’s endorsement.

IBJ reported earlier this month that Hogsett has been far outperforming Merritt in fundraising, at least so far in the campaign cycle. Hogsett pulled in $769,022 from the beginning of January to April 12—giving Hogsett $3.88 million in cash on hand—while Merritt raised $266,939 during that period, with a cash on hand figure of $233,960.

But there are also lesser-known candidates running in the primary that Hogsett and Merritt will face on their respective ballots.

Denise Paul Hatch, a retired Center Township resident, is also running on the Democratic side. Her campaign has raised $2,200 so far—in the form of a single contribution from herself. 

On the Republican side, both Christopher Moore, a dump truck driver, and Felipe Rios, a minister, will be on the ballot. Neither has reported receiving any campaign contributions.

Hamilton County

In Carmel, six-term incumbent Jim Brainard is challenged by Hamilton County Councilor Fred Glynn in a race that’s attracted the most news attention of any of the Hamilton County contests.

Glynn has taken issue with the amount of debt Carmel has accrued under Brainard’s 24-year tenure (the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance puts that figure at $1.3 billion) and the number of public-private partnerships the city has undertaken, which Glynn argues has driven small business owners out of the city.

But Brainard is proud of his track record leading Carmel, which often gets placed in top rankings of best places to live, and the transformation the city has seen over the past two decades. What once was a sleepy suburb has turned into a city with a bustling core, 125 corporate headquarters and relatively low tax rates, Brainard argues.

The race between Brainard and Glynn, a mortgage loan officer, turned ugly in March, when Glynn told media outlets the Brainard campaign offered him $140,000 to drop out of the race. Brainard’s campaign responded by saying that’s not true. Then, the Hamilton County Democratic Party called for the election board to investigate, which it’s agreed to do, but not until a week after the primary.

And last week, Carmel Clerk-Treasurer Christine Pauley accused Brainard of harassing her by sending unsolicited emails inviting her on trips and at one point forcibly kissing her. Brainard has adamantly denied those allegations and said her claims are politically motivated. He also says the two had a consensual relationship.

Pauley isn’t running for office this year, but she has publicly supported Glynn. She doesn’t deny that her decision to come forward is politically-motivated, saying voters should know who they’re electing May 7.

In Fishers, the election between Fadness, who is seeking a second term, and former Save the Train spokesman Logan Day hasn’t been nearly as eventful.

Logan has criticized Fadness, who was elected the city’s first mayor in 2014, for the rapid change the city, especially its downtown, has seen in recent years.

The mayor calls it progress. But his opponents say the city is changing too fast.

That primary race was largely quiet until April, when a judge ordered Save the Train to pay legal fees Fishers had racked up in what the court called meritless lawsuits the organization filed regarding Fishers' efforts to transform the Nickel Plate Railroad into a trail.

Fadness said Day’s efforts as a leader of Save the Train had cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

Then Day fired back, saying Fadness shouldn’t talk about wasting tax dollars after he proposed $1.7 million in tax incentive for Crew Carwash to relocate its Fishers headquarters to another spot in the city.

And in Noblesville, four Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination to replace John Ditslear, who isn’t seeking re-election after four terms as the city’s leader.  

Current City Councilor Chris Jensen, who has raised the most funding of any candidates in Noblesville (as IBJ reported last month), faces former school board member and lawyer Julia Kozicki, Hamilton County Media Group owner Mike Corbett and Noblesville urban forester Vince Baker.

Corbett had run unsuccessfully against Ditslear in past elections.

The Noblesville mayor's race has largely focused on managing the city's growth, enhancing and preserving its historic downtown and being transparent with residents.

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