Nail-biters & no-brainers: Some local races easier to predict than others

Herald Times: With several county offices on the ballot this election, some local races are less predictable than others as Election Day nears, according to party chairmen.

We are going to have some races that are a nail-biters,” including the ones for county auditor and county treasurer, Monroe County Republican Party Chairman William Ellis said.

The county has a very strong Democratic presence, he said, which often makes electing Republican officials difficult. Ellis said the Republican Party this election has taken a strong stance against corruption in county government.

Monroe County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Fraley said the local races are important, as many of the elected offices on the ballot have a direct impact on people’s lives on a day-to-day basis.

Despite the Democrats’ foothold in the county, he said, some races are going to be unpredictable — especially the auditor’s race, which has three candidates running, one of whom is the incumbent auditor running as an independent.

Another race he thinks will be interesting is the county council at-large race. He said this is the first election where a new law on straight-ticket voting will affect how voters select candidates in that race.

According to that law, the county council at-large race, in which voters pick three candidates, has been decoupled from the straight party ticket option. Voters who elect to vote straight party ticket will also have to individually mark their three choices for that race. In this coming election, those choices are Democratic incumbents Cheryl Munson, Geoff McKim and Lee Jones and Republican Hal Turner.

Fraley said his party has been trying to educate the public about the change, and he hopes there won’t be a significant drop-off in the number of people voting in the county council at-large race.

Besides local government races, the election this year also features several nonpartisan school board races and a constitutional amendment proposal; and voters residing within the Monroe County Community School Corp. limits will be asked to approve a referendum that will continue a special tax levy for the next six years to fund MCCSC schools.

Every vote counts

Fraley said Monroe County may be blue, but Indiana is a red state. However, he said, the actions of local Democrats can still have an impact on races up the ticket.

For example, Fraley said, there is a real opportunity for Democrats to take back the Indiana 9th Congressional District, in which Democrat Shelli Yoder is running against Republican Trey Hollingsworth.

But the same can be said about Republicans. Ellis said the more votes his party can generate in a predominantly strong Democratic county, the better the chances for state Republicans to be elected. He said that is how he hopes to mobilize many Republican voters who may argue they have no say in such a blue county. “Even though it is a Democratic county, every Republican vote contributes,” Ellis said.

Early voter turnout continues to grow in Monroe County. As of Friday, more than 23,000 people had opted to vote early, Chief Deputy Clerk Tree Martin said. Fraley said he has been very impressed by the early voter turnout.

“I do think that a lot of people are catching wind of the ease and convenience of early voting,” Fraley said. “It is also reflective of the extraordinary nature of the current campaign season.”

Voting information

Early voting at Election Central located at 401 W. Seventh St. and in the north Showers Building at 501 N. Morton St. will be open today until noon. Election Day voting will be on Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In addition, both parties are offering rides to anyone on Election Day to encourage participation in this year’s election. The Democrats can be reached at 317-556-5789 for English speakers and at 812-856-8135 for Spanish speakers. The Republicans can be reached at 317-513-4731.

Constitutional amendment, MCCSC referendum on ballot

There are two public questions on this year’s general election ballot. Here is the text voters will see at the top of their ballots on Tuesday:

• PROPOSED STATE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

Shall the Constitution of the State of Indiana be amended by adding a Section 39 to Article 1 to provide that the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife shall be forever preserved for the public good, subject only to the laws prescribed by the General Assembly and rules prescribed by virtue of the authority of the General Assembly to: (1) promote wildlife conservation and management; and (2) preserve the future of hunting and fishing?

• SCHOOL DISTRICT QUESTION

For the six (6) calendar years immediately following the holding of the referendum, shall the Monroe County Community School Corporation continue to impose a property tax rate that does not exceed eleven and one-half cents ($0.1150) on each one hundred dollars ($100) of assessed valuation and for the purpose of funding teachers, resources, and educational programs? The tax rate requested in this referendum was originally approved by the voters in the Monroe County Community School Corp. in 2010.