The NG

After a four-week delay, Primary Election Day is finally here. On Tuesday, June 2, Randolph County voters will go to the polls to decide on respective party candidates to be represented on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. 

While candidates for President have all but been decided, Randolph County voters will have particular interest in several local campaigns and a few at the state level. 

Voters can pick between two candidates for State Representative (District 33) on the Democrat side in Ryan Scott Davis or Julie Snider. Two candidates vie for the position on the Republican side in Brittany (Bridges) Kloer and incumbent John (J.D.) Prescott. 

Members of the Indiana House of Representatives serve two-year terms and are not subject to terms limits. They assume officer on the first Tuesday after the general election. 

United States Representatives for the Sixth District on the Democrat ballot are George T. Holland, of Rushville, Jeannine Lee Lake of Muncie, and Barry Welsh of Greenfield. Lake advanced to the general election in 2018. United States Representatives for the Sixth District on the Republican side are Mike Campbell of Williamsburg and incumbent Greg Pence of Taylorsville. 

Indiana has nine congressional districts. U.S. Representatives who also serve two-year terms with no limits. 

Among contested primary races are for Randolph County Coroner, Randolph County Middle District Commissioner and Randolph County Council (At-Large). Candidates are also on the ballot for Randolph County Commissioner (Eastern District), Randolph County Circuit Court Clerk, Judge of Randolph County Superior Court. 

Voters may also cast party votes for U.S. President and Indiana Governor. 

Randolph County currently has nine voting centers. All registered voters may vote at any of the voting centers. Identification is still required at all voting centers. Below is a list of all of the voting centers and the responses to questionnaires The News-Gazette sent to all local candidates.

• 4-H Fairgrounds (Husted Hall), 1885 S US 27 

• Courthouse Lobby, 100 S Main St, Winchester (new) 

• Trinity Lutheran Church, 1157 N Jackson Pike, Union City 

• Hoosier Place, 310 N Walnut St, Union City (mew) 

• Parker Volunteer Fire Dept, 247 E Howard St, Parker City 

• Calvary United Methodist Church, 200 S Portland St, Ridgeville 

• Farmland City Building, 104 E Henry St, Farmland 

• New Life Church, 8418 W Hwy 36, Modoc, 

• Lynn City Building, 103 S Main St, Lynn 

Absentee or early voting hours are Saturday, May 30 at Parker City Volunteer Fire Department (8 a.m.-3 p.m.) Or at the courthouse lobby May 26 through May 29 (8-Noon or and 1-4 p.m.)

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Mike Wickersham

Commissioner | Middle District

Why I am seeking to hold this office?

I am seeking the office of Randolph County Commissioner to serve the people of Randolph County. Having been a commissioner for the last seven years, I believe I have been helpful in making Randolph County a better place to live, work, and enjoy life. I hope to be elected to be able to continue this service for another four years.

What experience qualifies you to hold the office your are seeking?

In addition to my experience as a commissioner, I have lead our local family business that employs approximately 100 people in the county. I am a life-long resident of Randolph County and served many years on the Area Plan Commission. I have served on various community boards and committees in the county. Although inactive, I am a licensed attorney. These experiences, responsibilities, and involvement have given me the necessary skills and aptitude to serve as a county commissioner.

What do you feel are the top three prominent issues that should be addressed in you community and what actions will you take to resolve them?

The three prominent issues that I would like to see be addressed are: 

• Roads, Bridges, & Drains. Repair and reconstruction of our roads, bridges, and drains are an ongoing and never-ending responsibility of county government.  As expenses have grown and revenue shrinks it is a difficult balancing act to fix all the infrastructure that needs fixing.  What we can do is strategically move funds from discretionary county funds to supplement road, bridge, and drain reconstruction funds.  We have done that over the last few years and I believe we need to continue to supplement those infrastructure funds each year to allow for more repairs.  

• Internet Connectivity.  The county has started the plan to increase the internet connectivity and the speed of that connectivity throughout the county.  We have determined that internet connectivity and increased speed of that connectivity is an economic necessity for the citizens and businesses in the county.  I believe we need to continue to develop this internet project and support it fully so that we can achieve more connectivity and more speed.

• Quality of Life. Quality of life issues affect us all. Whether it be employment, health care, education, housing, recreational activities, or public and private amenities, they all affect our quality of life and these factors determine where we chose to live, work, learn and enjoy life.  We have many assets in the county that we promote. As a commissioner, I believe that we need to continue to improve and promote our county, our schools, our businesses, and our communities as a quality place to live. I believe we need to continue to support efforts to improve and promote our communities and the businesses and associations within those communities.

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Brent Halper

County Commissioner

Middle District

Why are you seeking to hold this office?

I’m seeking a commissioner’s seat because I believe it’s time for change. A set of fresh eyes and new ideas. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. We’ve done that here for decades and it’s created a disconnect among the people and a sense of complacency. We need to change that if our communities are going to survive and grow again.

What experience qualifies you to hold the office you are seeking?

The duties of a county commissioner are not that different from any kind of management position in industry or small business, to which I’ve held and excelled at. Budgeting, project development and deployment, team and personnel leadership, communication with the public, dispute mediation and resolution, and business analysis are a few things that I have an extensive background in.

What do you feel are the top three prominent issues that should be addressed in your community and what actions will you take to resolve them.

This is a tough question to pinpoint down to three distinct areas. Many of the issues our community faces go hand in hand with other things that there’s just not an easy or short answer to.

1. There’s almost a complete communication breakdown between elected representatives and the people they serve here. One of my main goals if I’m elected, is to get more people involved with their local politics. But this can’t be accomplished if people don’t know how, where to start or look without having to jump through several hoops.

With the technology available today, there’s no reason why meetings can’t be streamed, detailed reports of financials and current events or issues be posted without reading minutes of the meetings verbatim, which are usually at least 30 days or more after the fact. There should be total transparency of all government at any level without hesitation. Quite frankly, it’s not been that way here in a long time.

2. Economic development, fiscal responsibility and population shrinkage. No one can really predict how the economy is going to look after the pandemic ends. However, we need to do everything at our disposal to support and retain the businesses that are already here and seek out every avenue to bring new industry to our area.

A strong local economy with good paying jobs keeps people from leaving and brings new people to the area. If we can strengthen our local economy, we can look for ways to reduce taxes.

3. Drugs and crime. The plague that small town America has been witness to everywhere. This has to be a group effort between the county and the cities and towns that reside here. We need to work with the Sheriff’s Department, local Police and Fire/EMS to make sure they have the tools and training to combat this growing problem. We need to find ways to get help to those that want it and we need to work with the prosecutor’s office to lean harder on those repeat offenders.

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Darin James Randolph County Coroner

Why are you seeking to hold this office? I am seeking to hold the Randolph County Coroner’s office because I want to continue to serve my community and the great people of Randolph County as their next Coroner. I feel I have the experience, compassion, knowledge and leadership to run the coroner’s office effectively as well as efficiently as possible. What experience qualifies you to hold the office you are seeking for? I have 18 years of experience in public service in Randolph County as an EMT/Paramedic, firefighter and deputy coroner. I have been with the Randolph County Coroner’s Office for 12 years as a deputy coroner. I am the only candidate certified through the Indiana State Coroners Training Board as a Medicolegal Death Investigator and have been since 2007. I’m a member of the Indiana Coroners Association. My time and experience as a deputy coroner has given me insight on how I want to continue to improve and grow the coroner’s office effectively as well as efficiently. What do you feel are the top three prominent issues that should be addressed in your community and what actions will you take to resolve them? 1. The most prominent issue I see at the current time would be CVOID-19 and our office identifying positive cases in our community and working with the local and state authorities to assist in contact tracing to help slow the spread in our community. 2. The next issue I would like to address would be educating our local youth and community about issues such as, dangers of texting and driving, abuse of drugs, and consequences of drinking and driving. Being a father and having children in the county school systems I feel it's important for the coroner’s office to build a relationship with school resource officers and local authorities to get into the schools and educate our youth about these issues, to better protect our youth. 3. The other issue I’d like to address would be building a stronger working relationship with our local health department. Part of my plan to do this would be to work on the communication system between entities. I would do this so we can both provide our community with the best resources possible for public health and safety.

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David Lenkensdofer

Randolph County Council

Why are you seeking to hold this office?

The reason I am seeking the position of the Randolph County Council is to serve the people of the county and be a part of the team that keeps the county moving forward.

I know the importance of being a team player and have been fortunate to be part of several successful teams. I was part of the team that brought in St Vincent Randolph Hospital, converting the old hospital to the Center of Family Opportunities and TOA.

What experience qualifies you to hold the office you are seeking?

I feel I have the qualifications due to being a former Chief Financial officer for a large assisted living group. I also directed a national parts operation for Union City Body Company. I have a degree in accounting and currently a Randolph County Councilman.

What do you feel are the top three prominent issues that should be addressed in your community and what actions will you take to resolve them?

• Balanced Budget – The county council function is to set the annual operating budgets, establishing salaries, wages, per diem and other compensation. The current county council has made great strides to keep a balanced budget in the past. If elected I will continue to move forward in keeping a balanced budget.

• Broadband – Randolph County has a severe shortage of accessible internet service. We are currently in the process of getting that much needed service here. The project itself is well underway with the mapping of towers, consultants, funding in place and overview of the project by Homeland Security. This project will help with Internet, police, fire and rescue services.

• Roads, Bridges and Drainage – Other major issues facing Randolph County are roads, bridges and drainage. I will work very closely from the financial side and with the county commissioners to help improve all.

The decisions I have made in the past are based on facts and figures to develop the best possible solution on the issues presented. I will continue to use that philosophy going forward.

If elected, I will listen to all taxpayers and be responsible with the taxpayer’s money.

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Beverly (Bev) Fields:

County Council (At Large)

Why are you seeking to hold this office?

I am running for the office of County Council at Large because I feel that I can make educated, fair and conscientious decisions when considering financial questions before the County Council.

What experience qualifies you to hold the office you are seeking?

I retired over a year ago after serving as County Assessor for 12 years. Prior to that I worked 12 years for Ball Memorial Hospital / Cardinal Health System. My early experience in county government was five years in the Treasurer’s office (back in the days we typed all records and tax statements) and then seven years working as Court Reporter for Judge Stohler.

After serving County government for 24 years I feel that my background would give me a well-rounded understanding of the many offices, employee expectations, and the fairness in decisions made by County Council that is expected by the taxpayers in Randolph County.

What do you feel are the top three prominent issues that should be addressed in your community and what actions will you take to resolve them?

The 2020 pandemic has brought its own set of issues within county government. I would work to address what changes regarding facilities are feasible and cost effective moving forward.

Many businesses, including schools are weighing whether they are going to make “working from home” a new norm for the future. I believe it is worth a serious look as to whether some county jobs can be accomplished by an employee working at home.

Budget time for County Council is in July-August time frame. I would work to approve a budget that Randolph County can support and that the taxpayers feel is fair.

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Gary D Friend

Randolph County Council

Why are you seeking to hold this office?

I am seeking re-election because I feel I can still offer positive and optimistic energy to the forward growth of Randolph County.

What experience qualifies you to hold the office you are seeking?

A large portion of my experience comes from serving 2 terms and being the President six of the the last eight years. Living, working and raising children in our community gives me insight to the priorities needed to help manage the ever changing fiscal business of the County.

What do you feel are the top three prominent issues that should be addressed in your community and what actions will you take to resolve them?

First to mention is county-wide broad band with emergency communications upgrading. The Commissioners and the Council have already initiated the budget structure to fund this project, but a lot of work lies ahead to get this project completed. Once complete, I believe it will aid in the re-population effort for Randolph County. The loss of population is a critical issue.

Second is the population shift out of the County. This shift of population is not directly related to Randolph County only, but to the rural communities of the state. We need to make changes that are in our purview as a member of the council that will have an impact on the decisions of where families want to live and raise their families.

One of the opportunities for Randolph County that may arise from the present events is the shift to more rural settings for many reasons, including less dense population for health concerns, more hands on opportunities for children in schools, more affordable housing and less overall crime. The actions a councilman can take are fiduciary in nature, but important in the long game. Everything takes capital, but capital is more than money. It is also optimism and involvement. I am optimistic and stay involved.

Third is to get maximum benefit out of the budget that is possible. I believe we are lagging in getting wages up for County employees. We have roads and bridges that need funding often times beyond our resources. The wants of many and the needs of many more. Saying that is easy, getting it done with finances that are not keeping up with the needs is difficult and we are losing ground in some areas. How to overcome this is to be part of a team that actively searches for a solution. Understanding the separation of duties within our branches of government while being a team player.

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Kate Thornburg

Randolph County Commissioner, Middle District

Why are you seeking to hold this office?

The short answer is that I want to help the people of Randolph County. A better answer is that I feel there is a need to ensure that spending and finances are handled frugally with the citizens’ best interests in mind, especially regarding EDIT monies. There is also a need for increased transparency, with minutes published in a more timely manner, as well as a need for greater accessibility, such as moving meetings to the evenings to enable more citizens to attend and live streaming of the same. I also believe that county commissioners, as public servants, should be held accountable to the people in the district and work to learn the people’s will prior to casting their votes, keeping the best interests of the people and the people’s will at the heart of everything they do.

What experience qualifies you to hold the office you are seeking?

Although I have never held an elected political position, I have been in public service for most of my adult life. As the wife of a soldier, I spent 20 years advocating for military families, navigating various government agencies in support of military families, and adhering to military regulations in the allocation of funds. I ran battalion level FRGs, in charge of up to six companies of soldiers’ families, and worked with smaller Family Readiness Groups as a leader through four separate deployments, troubleshooting problems that came up, helping families when soldiers were wounded, and acting as a liaison between the unit and families for dissemination of information. I am also the co-founder of a non-profit that offers art therapy to soldiers with PTSD, so I am intimately familiar with grants, providing services on a budget, and the mountains of paperwork required with administration of such entities. And finally, since my husband’s retirement and moving back to Winchester after 20 years abroad, I’ve been active in our community, volunteering with the Historical Society, writing for the newspaper, offering help with grant writing to various groups, finding employment working to preserve historic buildings here in Indiana, and trying to help make our new home an even greater place to raise our five children. I feel that political office is a way to expand one’s service to the community at large and hope to continue my service as your county commissioner.

What do you feel are the top three prominent issues that should be addressed in your community and what actions will you take to resolve them?

• Finances – Regardless of the state of the economy, finances will always be a major issue at the local level. The county has been extremely blessed to have the opportunity to bring in the windfarms, because it serves as an example of environmental conservatism and because of the revenue it brings in. I would like to see more of this money being directed to strengthening Randolph County’s infrastructure through the paving of roads and expanding wireless service. I would also like to see where the county could be saving money to allow for more services to be provided at a lower cost to the taxpayers.

• Community Involvement – The right of a voter to be heard doesn’t end on Election Day when a voter casts his ballot, nor should their ability to be involved in county affairs. County commissioners are elected to be representatives of the people and have a duty to ensure that the people are heard. Several large expenditures to the tune of hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars have been passed without a truly open and full disclosure to the taxpayers of the county, and I feel that many would be shocked or possibly even angered to learn how money was being spent. Publishing the budget, maintaining social media accounts to keep the public informed about upcoming projects, and open door access to the commissioners should be standard operating procedure. Beyond that, any large expenditures should be included on the ballot. And while I am fully in support of passing an ordinance declaring Randolph County a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary County and including the language required to protect a citizens’ 2nd Amendment rights, I believe this should also be put on the ballot to let the people decide on an issue of such grave import. If elected, I will maintain a home office and phone line dedicated to performing the duties of commissioner and will keep a Facebook page where I can publish upcoming agendas and results of votes. It is of the utmost importance that citizens be informed and are able to voice their opinions, state their grievances, and hold their officials accountable.

• Economic Development – Randolph County is ideally located to be an industrial hub, and the county should be viewed as an industrial friendly county and actively work to bring in new industry. I’ve heard that it cannot be done, that the past days of Union City as “Hub City” and Winchester as a center of glass production cannot return. I challenge this idea and ask, “why not?” Once the current pandemic has passed, I believe that the ingenuity, passion, and sheer gumption of the American people will overcome the current economic troubles and cause a growth unlike anything we have ever seen, and I want to see Randolph County reap some of that. Bringing in industry would help relieve the tax burden currently carried by families and farmers and allow the county to grow and prosper, and where the people prosper, many other problems, like drugs and crime, can be reduced. Prosperity is the key to a greater Randolph County.

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Ted Martin

Randolph County Council

1. I am seeking reelection to the office of Randolph County Council At-Large.

2. I have held this office for the last four years and consider them as learning years. I now feel as if I'm much more competent at job and would appreciate another opportunity to serve my community.

3. The top three issues that are of vital importance to Randolph County is lack of industry, lack of high tech trained employees, and lack of middle class affordable housing. All three issues can be solved by working hand in hand with the County Commissioners and the Randolph County Economic Development Board.

The lack of industry is the main root for the other two issues or the lack of the other two issues could indeed be the main problem for the lack of industry. Each issue must be addressed on an individual basis and I plan on working with the County Commissioners and the Economic Development Board in doing so. This is of prime importance to all of us in Randolph County.

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John (J. D.) Prescott

State Representative District 33

Why are you seeking to hold this office?

I want to continue to serve our district and be an advocate for Christian and conservative values at the Statehouse. My goals are to provide excellent constituent services and look for ways to help our community grow.

What experience qualifies you to hold the office you are seeking?

As the incumbent serving the past two years, I have learned a lot of valuable information and have built relationships within the statehouse that will be helpful during upcoming sessions. Beyond my time at the Statehouse, my background in agriculture will continue to help shape policies that affect our rural economy. I have the work ethic it takes to get the job done and I am always ready to listen to new ideas from constituents and community leaders.

What do you feel are the top three prominent issues that should be addressed in your community and what actions will you take to resolve them?

1. Rebuilding our economy from the economic impact of Covid-19. Next session is a budget year at the statehouse and looking at projections it will be a tight budget. Fortunately, we have been financially responsible as a state and have a surplus on hand for economic emergencies such as this. Even with a large surplus, it will go fast. That is why it is vitally important that we create a strong balanced budget and make sure we get the tools needed to our local communities. I am optimistic that by continuing down a path of financial responsibility we will rebuild our local economy stronger than it was before.

2. Removing burdensome government regulations. I will continue to work with local elected officials to look for ways to remove or simplify government regulations so our locals can operate more efficiently.

3. Increasing access to high speed Internet. It has been a priority of mine to look for ways to improve our rural broadband around the district. Though we are making progress, there is still work that needs to be done. We could utilize the state's I-Light network (a fiber optic network that connects our states public universities) to allow the private industry to access this fiber to expand Internet into the rural areas.

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Julie Snider

State Representative, District 33

What office are you seeking?

State Representative, District 33

Why are you seeking to hold this office?

Our hometowns in East Central Indiana are in danger and not enough is being done by our state legislature to protect our communities. Our small businesses, our churches, our schools, our neighborhoods aren't going to be here for our children and our grandchildren unless we make a change.

What experience qualifies you to hold the office you are seeking?

I've dedicated my entire professional life to service and government has been my passion for these last fifteen years. As a high school government teacher, it is my responsibility to understand the technical matters and responsibilities of our legislature and so I am uniquely positioned to serve our families. I am driven by a commitment to my small grandchildren that there be an education here that will make them able to compete, jobs here that will make them able to provide, and community here that will make them able to thrive.

What do you feel are the top three prominent issues that should be addressed in your community and what actions will you take to resolve them?

1) Our rural and small town economies were in danger long before COVID-19 and is in far more grave danger now as a result of it. Maintaining a balanced budget for Indiana will be harder than ever, but it can also be made simpler than ever by investing in areas that are proven to be most wise. Human capital, education, training, the productive engine that is our skilled workforce, these are the areas that our legislature fails to resource adequately and these are the areas that I would prioritize.

2) The power structures in the statehouse in Indianapolis cast rural districts like ours aside. Economic development as is continues to favor urban and swelling suburbs, and our district needs an advocate that is willing to fight for resources that will guarantee our future.

3) It won't be enough to merely grow our communities, we must grow healthier communities. I will be committed to actions that hold drug companies responsible for addictive opioids, and that pursue federal funds for proven prevention, treatment, and recovery methods. I will advocate for low health care costs and work with local government to recruit more excellent medical professionals to our communities.