Herald TImes: New year, new officials

Despite it being a holiday, it was standing room-only in the Nat U. Hill meeting room of the Monroe County Courthouse Tuesday to watch more than 50 elected officials be sworn in.

The Monroe County Democratic Party’s outgoing chairman, Mark Fraley, started the ceremony by congratulating the officials, those who supported them and everyone who ran in the November election for their participation in and service to democracy.

“It’s quite appropriate that we start the new year in recognition of public service and civic virtue. Government means a lot of things to a lot of different people. But when it’s at its best, local government is a place where a community can come together to solve shared problems. And the only way we can expect good things of government is if all of us put in some measure of sacrifice to making it work,” he said.

William Ellis, chairman of the Monroe County Republican Party, echoed those sentiments while welcoming the new officials to the Monroe County family.

“Among people running for office, this has been talked about that this is the hardest job interview they’ve ever had. ... The difference is that in the end when you get a job that you want, it’s usually for personal betterment for your family, and for the people in your immediate sphere. But for every one of you taking the oath, this is not about what you’ve accomplished: It’s about what you’re going to accomplish for the community. It’s you taking that responsibility for all the people that voted for you, all the people, no matter what party, look up to you, because at this juncture, Monroe County is your family,” Ellis said.

The historical aspects of the election results did not go unstated at Tuesday’s ceremony: the county saw its highest voter turnout in an off-year election in recent decades, and Monroe County became the first county in the state to have an all-female board of commissioners. Lee Jones, a former county council member, was sworn in as the latest addition to the commissioners, serving District 1 and joining Julie Thomas and Amanda Barge.

A majority of the new officials sworn in were women.

Democrats Christine Talley Haseman, Catherine Stafford and Darcie L. Fawcett were sworn in as Monroe County Circuit Court judges, and completed their first duties in their new jobs by swearing in other elected officials at the ceremony.

Democrat Erika Oliphant was sworn in as the new Monroe County prosecutor. Kate Wiltz, also a Democrat, was sworn in as the District 2 representative on the Monroe County Council.

New township officials that took their positions Tuesday include Bean Blossom Township Trustee Ed Bitner, Bloomington Township Trustee Kim Alexander and Indian Creek Township Trustee Christopher R. Reynolds.

Elizabeth A. Ruh and Brandon Schurr will be joining the Monroe County Community School Corp. board, representing District 1 and District 7 respectively. In addition, Angie Jacobs will serve as the Bean Blossom Township representative on the Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corp. board.

Reach Emily Ernsberger at 812-331-4368.