Election: Incumbents prevail, voter turnout on the rise
By Sadie Hunter
There were no big surprises in the results of May 3’s primary election, but participation in this cycle has grown.
Nearly half (46.96 percent) of registered voters participated, either through absentee and early voting or voting at their respective polling place on election day.
Hamilton Co. Elections Officer Kathy Kreag-Richardson says that percentage is on par with other presidential election cycles, but the increase is obvious when looking closer at the actual number of ballots cast.
Richardson said eight years ago, in the 2008 primary – the most comparable recent primary – Hamilton Co. saw a 46 percent turnout. However, there were only 71,450 ballots cast, compared to this year’s 103,684 ballots cast.
Richardson said the increase accounted for the county’s growing population but also an increase in participation with more than 32,000 additional ballots from 2008.
In 2012’s primary election, after President Barack Obama’s first term, and during Republican Mitt Romney’s contention, only approximately 25 percent (47,250) of registered voters in Hamilton Co. participated.
Richardson said early and absentee voting also showed increased involvement from voters. In 2008, 5,302 voted early or absentee, compared to 2012’s 4,008 and this year’s 11,682.
Overall, 103,684 of 220,813 registered voters cast a ballot.
In local, county-level races for three at-large seats on the Hamilton Co. Council and the contested District 3 Hamilton Co. Commissioner seat, incumbents held their posts for the next four years.
The Hamilton Co. Council will welcome back Rick McKinney, who took the most votes of the race – against Brad Beaver, Bill Dennis, Jeff Hern and George Kehl – at 36,218 votes, or 25.07 percent.
Current Fall Creek Township Trustee Jeff Hern took the next-open seat with 22.8 percent of the vote (32,934 votes), followed by incumbent Brad Beaver’s 30,221 votes (20.92 percent).
Fishers Police Dept. Chief George Kehl, who will retire from the position in September, and retired barber Bill Dennis conceded after receiving the lowest votes of the five candidates at 28,764 votes (19.91 percent) and 16,337 votes (11.31 percent), respectively.
For the contested commissioner seat in District 2, incumbent Mark Heirbrandt edged out Bill Smythe by 8,314 votes – 56.95 percent to 43.05 percent.
In a press release from the campaign of Bill Smythe, Smythe stated, “I offer my congratulations to Mark Heirbrandt in winning the election. The voters have spoken. While this is a disappointing outcome, I’ll always take solace in having fought the good fight. Our message of Voters Over Vendors remains an important one. I hope candidates for office going forward will embrace it in the interest of greater transparency and higher ethical standards in local government. I entered the race in part to ensure that Rick McKinney and Brad Beaver were reelected to the County Council At Large. I can take satisfaction that the resources spent to deny me were not able to be fully utilized to remove them.
“I want to thank my wife Brenda, for enduring this process, but also for supporting my decision to run in the first place. It all starts with Brenda, and she was my rock during the campaign, as she always is.
“The support of my team was incredible. I especially want to recognize Campaign Manager Dan Rieke, who kept us moving forward at every turn, and Mike Colby, who brought valuable, practical ideas and a constant presence to the team. This wasn’t a one-man show. It was gratifying to have so many like-minded people come together around our message. I was at once proud and humbled to drive around the county and see our signs in so many front yards and in the windows of businesses.
“In politics, there are battles that are won and lost, but I’m still the same person. I was fighting against higher taxes before this election, and I will be out there fighting for what I believe in afterwards.”
On his campaign Facebook page shortly after the final call May 3, Mark Heirbrandt said, “The results are in, and I’m proud to be your elected Hamilton County Commissioner! I couldn’t have done it without you and support! Thank you again and again for your vote! You have my word, I will continue to make Hamilton County the best it can be!”
In the race for Hamilton Co. Superior Court No. 2 Judge, Jon Brown defeated David Najjar by a slim margin – 51.33 percent (31,782 votes) compared to Najjar’s 48.67 percent (30,130 votes).
In Noblesville and Westfield, long-time State Senator in District 20 Luke Kenley defeated opponent Scott Willis by just more than 7,000 votes. Kenley received 60.75 percent of the vote while Willis received 39.25 percent.
In Carmel, vying for the Indiana House of Representatives District 24 seat were incumbent Donna Schaibley and Greg Fettig. Schaibley won the race with 53.6 percent of the vote (4,796 votes), compared to Fettig’s 46.6 percent (4,152 votes)
Also in Carmel, looking to keep his seat was Jerry Torr, who won his race against Tom Linkmeyer with 52.62 percent of the vote (7,896 votes). Linkmeyer received 47.38 percent of the vote with 7,111 votes.
The open U.S. Senate seat for Indiana went to Todd Young in a landslide. Young received 73.72 percent of the vote in Hamilton Co. – a total of 48,582 votes – compared to Marlin Stutzman’s 26.28 percent (17,320 votes).
Competing against U.S. House of Representatives District 5 incumbent Susan W. Brooks were Mike Campbell, who received 12.96 percent of the vote (8,333 votes) in the county, and Stephen MacKenzie, who received 18.81 percent (121,000 votes). Brooks garnered 68.23 percent (43,879 votes).
The Democratic race for the same seat favored Angela Demaree, who got 77.04 percent of the vote (17,316 votes) in Hamilton Co. against her opponent Allen Davidson, who received 22.96 percent and 5,160 votes.