Nearly 60 percent of voters in Zionsville and rural Perry Township supported a proposed government consolidation at the polls Tuesday, but it’s up to an appeals court to decide whether residents will elect their first mayor next year.
Town attorneys have asked the Indiana Supreme Court to review an Oct. 7 ruling that Zionsville can’t absorb township operations because it is a town. Because Boone County Judge Rebecca McClure’s decision came after ballots were prepared, voters were able to weigh in on the plan in the meantime.
A majority of voters in both Zionsville and Perry Township had to vote “yes” for the proposal to remain viable. Results weren’t broken out by jurisdiction Tuesday night, but the 60-40 margin suggests it passed; 7,302 residents voted on the question.
Zionsville Town Council and the Perry Township board approved the reorganization plan in April, and nearby Whitestown filed suit in June. It is seeking to stop the merger, which would restrict its ability to annex Perry property in the future.
Town leaders argue that the reorganization is permitted because Zionsville gained the powers of townships when it merged with rural Union and Eagle townships in 2010.
Officials are seeking to bypass the state Court of Appeals in the interest of time, Town Council President Jeff Papa said Tuesday.
The plan calls for Zionsville residents to choose their first mayor during next year’s municipal elections, and other offices also would be affected by the merger.
Ideally, Papa said, the litigation will be resolved before the candidate-filing period begins in February.
“Hopefully the courts will rule quickly to avoid any more confusion,” he said.
In other election news north of 96th Street:
Republicans won all of the contested seats in Fishers’ first City Council election—not surprising in the GOP stronghold—but fresh faces will outnumber council veterans 5-4 come Jan. 1.
Incumbent John Weingardt survived a spirited challenge from Democrat Greg Purvis, who has been a vocal opponent of Fishers’ aggressive downtown redevelopment strategy. Weingardt, serving his second year as council president, won 72 percent of the votes in his south-central district.
David George kept his southwest district seat, winning 67 percent of the votes over Democrat Justin Kilgore.
Current councilors Pete Peterson (southwest district) and Stuart Easley (northeast district) were unopposed on Tuesday.
The newcomers are Selina Stoller, who edged out incumbent Mike Colby by a dozen votes in the May primary and defeated Democrat Kent Nelson on Tuesday by collecting 74 percent of the votes in the northwest district; Eric Moeller, an unopposed north-central district candidate who joined the council in September after Renee Cox's resignation; and all three at-large members.
Todd Zimmerman (30 percent), Cecilia Coble (30 percent) and Rich Block (28 percent) were the top three vote-getters of the four at-large candidates, beating lone Democrat Maryellen Bein.
Town Manager Scott Fadness, who beat five other primary candidates to win the Republican nomination for mayor in May, did not face an opponent in the general election.