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Incumbents solid in primary races

Harrison County’s Democratic voters last night chose a newcomer and two seasoned councilmen from Corydon to run against the Republicans in the fall election for three at-large county council seats.
Carl (Buck) Mathes led the council’s ticket with 26.37 percent of the vote, newcomer Chris Timberlake was second with 22.41 percent and Carl Duley beat the remaining three Democratic candidates by capturing 19 percent.
The three men will face incumbent council member Rhonda Rhoads and first-time challengers Harold L. Klinstiver and Brian C. Thomas in the fall. None of those three had opposition in the Primary.
Voters gave Democratic incumbent Commissioner James Goldman of Depauw a strong Primary finish against three challengers.
Voters will go to the polls on Nov. 2 to decide all of the winners, most of whom had no opposition in the Primary, either on the Democratic side or Republican.
And several Democrats said the Harrison County party is now strong and is expected to make a strong showing.
But for now, it was enough to savor the Primary victory.
Goldman, who is completing his first term as a commissioner, captured 57.17 percent of the Democratic vote. Former two-term Commissioner Ed Emily of Corydon placed second with 1,086 votes, or 25.27 percent, and former Palmyra town council president Roy (Speedy) McClanahan got 205 votes to political newcomer John H. VanMeter’s 550.
Goldman faces Republican Michael A. Gregory in the fall. Gregory was unchallenged in the Republican Primary.
Goldman credited his strong finish with his record. ‘I always try to be fair, and I think (the voters) see that,’ he said last night. ‘I try to treat people all over the county the same as in my district.’
One of the top issues in several past elections has been the animal control facility, but Goldman said now, ‘We’re seeing the issue come to a close.’ (See story below.)
He added: ‘All of the incumbents showed we could work together and resolve an issue that was very contentious.’
‘If I win in the fall, I see another busy four years. I don’t see county government slowing down any.
‘I will commit myself to the job as I have in the past,’ Goldman said. ‘Whatever job comes before us, I will put everything I have into it.’
The next major issue to come? ‘The hospital’s building project,’ he said. (As a commissioner, Goldman has backed the hospital with its plans, and has left the funding up to the council to resolve.)
That’s a challenge all three Democratic candidates for council are ready to face.
Timberlake, second-place finisher, was clearly supportive of a new hospital during his campaign.
Last night, he said, ‘I don’t want our generation to be remembered as the generation that, even though it had so much going for it in terms of dollars, turned its back on advancing health care in Harrison County.’
Financing the $36 million building project shouldn’t be placed on the backs of taxpayers, he said.
‘I think there are riverboat dollars there to help the hospital out with that,’ Timberlake said. (Harrison County is currently receiving some $24 million a year from Caesars Indiana in gaming revenue.)
Mathes said he thinks the winning candidates’ support for the hospital figured in the final figures.
‘Some of it was a vote for Harrison County Hospital,’ he said. ‘I think the fact that Carl and I’s idea about not using property tax money to build a hospital is getting around the county. We will not be for using property tax money,’ Mathes said, emphatically.
But, he cautioned, ‘Don’t expect the issue to be decided before the fall election.
‘I’m going to give Gary Davis the credit for this. Gary Davis (chairman of the council) is dragging his feet,’ Mathes said. ‘The chairman has a lot of control over what comes up at the meetings.’
Whatever the issue, Mathes said he believes the voters trust him to be fair and to do what is right for the county as a whole, which he pledges to continue.
‘I always try to work for the people and leave my personal issues at the door.’
Duley, the incumbent Democrat who placed third in the Primary race, said with a laugh that’s not at all uncommon for him. ‘I always place third,’ he said.
He believes the issue of loaning rather than giving the Lanesville Community School Corp. riverboat money to replace its gymnasium and add classrooms isn’t necessarily dead.
‘If we see a need and we can afford it, we need to fund it,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t matter what school it is.’
He and Mathes agreed on that point. ‘We don’t think the county should be in the loaning business,’ Duley said.
The hospital issue, Duley said, needs to be dealt with quickly, and he believes an unbiased study should help clarify the need. ‘A decision on the hospital needs to be made before the fall election.’
All of the candidates remarked on the positive, issue-oriented campaign.
‘There’s so many good things going on here right now, it’s not too hard to be positive about the future of Harrison County,’ Timberlake said.
Republican incumbent Commissioner John Robert (J.R.) Eckart faces a challenge from former Democratic Commissioner Steve Haggard, both of whom had no opposition in the Primary.
Nichols gets nod in surveyor primary
Victor McCauley is a surveyor but Bill Nichols is the Democratic choice for the surveyor after winning the county surveyor’s race by a strong margin.
Even after his party nomination was a mathematical certainty, Nichols was reluctant to comment from the standpoint of the victor. He lost to Gary Davis by 68 votes in the county council race during the general election two years ago, and he waits for his chickens to hatch.
Though McCauley is a licensed surveyor, Nichols got out the vote with a 15-percent margin, winning 2,147 to 1,597.
Nichols said he likes to help people with property disputes, and he expected a close election.
‘McCauley … was a licensed land surveyor, but that’s not a requirement of the job. Mr. McCauley’s a good man, too, and a good opponent,’ Nichols said.
Bosler, Coleman elected to NH board
Voters in the North Harrison Community School Corp. elected non-partisan school trustees yesterday.
Two seats ‘ Blue River and Morgan ‘ were up for grabs.
Buddy L. Bosler was elected to the Blue River seat with 805 votes. He defeated Philip Robertson (710), Michael T. Cannon (511) and Timothy D. Ash (319).
(Leslie Robertson, who currently holds that seat, did not seek reelection because she is moving from Blue River Township to Spencer Township.)
Bosler, who has served 14 years on the Blue River Township Advisory Board, said he was excited that he won. He intends to resign his seat on the advisory board.
He spent last evening catching the returns at the courthouse, but once he knew he had won, he left the building to get some fresh air.
‘My blood pressure is down now,’ he said.
Bosler has been a contract bus driver for North Harrison for 10 years and also farms. His bus contract was transferred to his wife, Jackie, by the school board last month, to take effect May 31.
He complimented the other candidates for running a clean race.
‘I never heard any of the competitors say anything bad about me, and I didn’t say anything bad about them,’ said Bosler.
The Morgan Township seat was won by the incumbent, Ronald E. Coleman. This will be his fourth consecutive term on the board.
Coleman had 1,163 votes. His challenger, Brian J. Wenning, had 1,134.
‘Brian Wenning would have made a good school board member,’ Coleman said, but he’s pleased that he won again.
‘I just couldn’t let go what we’ve done,’ he said.
Coleman, who is a grain farmer, said this was the first election that he’s had competition. (In his first race for office, another candidate withdrew prior to the election.)
‘I think my being reelected shows faith in the current board,’ said Coleman.
When asked if he would seek an unprecedented fifth term, Coleman said it was too early to say.
‘Obviously, I’m pleased, and I’m pleased for the school corporation for the work the trustees do and for the work of past trustees,’ he said.
Incumbents, one newcomer top Lanesville board
The incumbents didn’t budge as four candidates vied for three seats on Lanesville Community School Corp.’s board of trustees. Mark Wernert received 543 votes and Robert Schickel 521 as the two secured their return to the board.
Chuck Himmelhaver did not run for reelection.
Denzil McKim, a newcomer to the board and politics in general, edged out another first-time candidate, Kenny Acton, for the final slot, 465 to 447.
‘I’m pleased at the result. I really am,’ McKim said. ‘There was no campaigning. You don’t get a chance to say anything except a few lines in your bio. Basically it’s your reputation in the community. That’s how I perceived it.’
McKim is a familiar face in the Lanesville school district. He coached a Lanesville-Junior Senior High School extracurricular academic team, and he has coached and umpired baseball for 13 years with the Lanesville Youth League. He sat three years on their board of directors. He’s also a substitute teacher in Harrison and Floyd counties.
Mitch Daniels will meet Kernan in fall
Mitch Daniels garnered 72 percent of the vote in Harrison County and 67 percent in Indiana overall as he routed Eric Miller on the Republican gubernatorial ticket.
Daniels made a stop in Harrison County last May during a 100-day campaign trail that wound through each of the state’s 92 counties. And he was a guest at the 65th annual Lincoln Day Banquet, sponsored by the Harrison County Republicans.
Throughout his campaign, Daniels has criticized the leadership of Gov. Joe Kernan and visited some of Indiana’s most out-of-the-way places.
Voter turnout dips below 25 percent
If the saying ‘If you don’t vote, you can’t complain’ is true, Harrison County is on its way to being the most agreeable it has been since, well, ever.
About 30 percent of the county’s registered voters went to the polls in the 2000 primary. County Councilman Alvin Brown said then he had never seen a turnout so low in his more than 30 years around elections.
It didn’t take Alvin long to see worse.
Only 6,578 of Harrison County’s 28,031 registered voters (about 23.5 percent) came out despite ideal weather yesterday.
The paltry turnout was forecasted by the fewer than 400 absentee ballots cast. Twice as many were cast two years ago.
‘I just wish more people would go vote, and I’m sure the other candidates wish more people would turn out. It would help everybody. We just have to hope that the fall is much better,’ said Circuit Clerk Carole Gaither.
Typically the fall General Election does produce stronger numbers. In 2002, 37 percent of the county’s registered voters cast their ballots. Though still not a majority, it was one of the best turnouts in the state.
Information for this article was gathered by the news staff of The Corydon Democrat.