Area election preview: Early voting kicks off Tuesday

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Early voting starts Tuesday for the 2019 municipal elections for those who can’t or don’t want to wait until Election Day on Nov. 5 to cast their ballots.

Residents in Marion County will be determining the next mayor of Indianapolis and 25 City-County Council races, and several suburban cities will be determining mayors and council members.

In Indianapolis, Democrat Joe Hogsett is seeking a second term as mayor, and Republican state Sen. Jim Merritt is hoping to oust him from office. Libertarian Doug McNaughton is also running for mayor.

During the campaign, Hogsett has been touting his accomplishments as mayor, while admitting he still has work to do, especially in areas such as crime and public safety. Merritt has attacked Hogsett for what he says is a lack of progress on violent crime and his “abysmal” record working with minority- and women-owned businesses.

All but one Indianapolis council race is contested—Democrat William (Duke) Oliver in the 9th District is unopposed.

Seven council races are open with incumbents not seeking re-election, and five of those are currently seats held by Republicans. Democrats currently control the council 14-11.

In District 5, Republican Adam Cox is hoping to keep the seat in GOP control as he faces Democrat Alison Brown to succeed outgoing Republican Jeff Coats. In District 16, Republican Laura Giffel, Democrat Kristin Jones and Green Party candidate Mike Smith are running to replace Republican Jefferson Shreve. In District 18, Republican Michael-Paul Hart is running against Democrat Duane Ingram for Republican Sue Cordi’s seat.

In District 23, Republican Paul Annee and Democrat Beverly McDermott-Piazza are vying for the seat held by Republican Danielle Coulter. And in District 24, Republican Michael Dilk is running against Democrat Ben Brown to replace Republican John Wesseler.

As for the Democratic-controlled open races, in District 3, Democrat Dan Boots is running against Republican Dan Jones to replace outgoing Democrat Christina Scales. And in District 7, Democrat John Barth is running to replace Democrat Joseph Simpson. Republican Stu Rhodes is running against Barth.

Several councilors also are up for election for the first time after being appointed to the council since the 2015 election by a caucus.

Voters in Lawrence and Beech Grove also will be voting in mayoral and council races.

In Hamilton County, there’s just one contested mayoral race. Westfield Mayor Andy Cook, who ran unopposed in the primary, is challenged by Libertarian Donald G. Rainwater II.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard, Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness and Chris Jensen, who won the Republican primary for Noblesville mayor, are all unopposed in November’s election.

As for city councils, Hamilton County Democrats have fielded candidates in each of the cities.

In Carmel, three incumbents face challengers. Republican Bruce Kimball is challenged by Democrat Cleaster Davis for the Central District; Republican Sue Finkam faces Democrat Ti’gre McNear for the Northeast District, and Republican Laura Campbell is running against Democrat William Howard III for the North District.

In the West District, which was newly created as part of the city’s redistricting effort that coincided with it becoming a second class city, Republican Debra Minott faces Democrat Miles Nelson.

In Fishers, Democrats are running four candidates against incumbents.

Republican Eric Moeller, the current North Central District representative, is challenged by Democratic Samantha DeLong; South Central councilor John Weingardt, a Republican, is facing Democrat Lane Skeeters; and Republican David George, who represents the Southwest District, is taking on Democrat Adam Kaps.

Republican incumbents Todd Zimmerman, Cecilia Coble and Rich Block are challenged by Democrat Jocelyn Vare for their three at-large seats.

In Noblesville, three council seats have contested races. Republican Greg O’Connor faces Democrat Jason Myers for the District 5 seat, and Republican Megan Wiles is running against Democrat Jeremy Hawk in the District 6 race. Republicans Brian Ayer, Mark Boice and Darren Peterson are in a race with Democrat Paul Jo Gilliam for three at-large seats.

And, in Westfield, just one council race is contested. Republican Mike Johns, who ousted incumbent Bob Horkay in the Republican primary for the District 5 seat, is challenged by independent Kate Healey Snedeker. In the primary, Johns was endorsed by the Fiscal Conservatives of Hamilton County. Snedeker currently serves on the Board of Public Works and Safety, appointed to it by Cook.

Also in Hamilton County, Carmel Clay Schools will be the first district in the state to propose a property tax referendum for school safety and security. State lawmakers approved legislation during the 2019 session to allow for these types of referendums to be added to ballots starting this year.

The referendum, if approved, would allow the school district to impose a tax on homeowners of 5 cents per $100 of assessed value for eight years. The funding would allow Carmel Clay Schools to put a student resource officer in every school. Currently, three of these officers are shared between 14 elementary and middle schools, and four serve the high school, which has more than 5,000 students.

The Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township, Center Grove Community School Corporation and Zionsville Community Schools also are proposing property tax referendums to voters for capital projects and operating revenue.

In Hamilton County, early voting is offered at the Judicial Center in Noblesville weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Oct. 25. Early voting will be available at satellite locations in Carmel, Fishers and Westfield starting Oct. 23.

In Marion County, voters can cast ballots at the City-County Building from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through Oct. 25 and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 28-Nov. 1.

Early voting also will be available in Marion and Hamilton counties on the last two weekends before Election Day.

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