Political Notebook

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6 locals enter caucus race to replace Pond

Six local men have officially filed to run in the House District 85 caucus to replace Rep. Phyllis Pond, R-New Haven, who died last Sunday.

The caucus is scheduled for Oct. 8. The deadline to file is Friday.

The winner of the caucus will serve the remainder of Pond’s term, ending late next year, and earn an edge in the May primary.

Three men had already announced their intention to run – Fort Wayne lawyer Casey Cox, realtor Denny Worman and corporate executive Dave Heine.

In addition, three others have filed with the Indiana Republican Party – Ken Richardson, Mike Cameron and Ken Knoblaugh.

Local businessman Ric Runestad said he is not running in the caucus.

Pond was an elected precinct committeewoman who was eligible to vote in the caucus. Due to her death, her vicechair will serve as Pond’s proxy and vote.

Pence taps Democrat

Gov. Mike Pence appointed a Democrat to the State Board of Education last week – eliminating a possible violation of state law.

According to Indiana Code, no more than six of the 10 members on the governor-appointed board may be from the same political party. Pence said six Republicans, two Democrats and two independents serve on the panel.

But a review by The Times of Northwest Indiana found that Daniel Elsener, one of the claimed independents, is likely a Republican.

Voting records show Elsener cast a ballot in Republican primary elections nine out of 10 times since 1994. He voted in the 2000 Democratic primary. He also has donated thousands to Republican candidates and business groups.

Republican David Shane resigned his seat on the state board to serve as chair of the Indiana Region 5 Works Council. The governor appointed Democrat Gordon Hendry to take his place.

Hendry is first vice president of CB Richard Ellis Group, Inc., where he serves as the Midwest regional leader of the company’s Public Institutions and Education Solutions Group.

Prior to joining CBRE, Hendry led Indy Partnership – an organization focused on economic development in 10 regional counties in central Indiana.

Hendry also served as the director of economic development under Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, a Democrat, focusing on workforce and business development in Indianapolis, and, earlier, as an attorney at Ice Miller.

“I am pleased Gordon Hendry has agreed to serve on the State Board of Education,” Pence said. “His leadership experience, commitment to public service, and work with both education and economic groups will be a critical asset to the State Board of Education in the years ahead.”

An engaging council

There will be 22 bright young faces roaming the halls of Citizens Square on Tuesday evenings for the next nine months: the Mayor’s Youth Engagement Council.

This diverse group of sophomore, juniors and seniors in high school want to be involved in their community, and the MYEC provides a forum for future leaders to get involved in the city and stand out by participating in service learning projects, engaging their peers, volunteering at community events and learning about local nonprofit organizations, business and government.

“We are committed to our young people and want our city to be a place where young talent can blossom,” Mayor Tom Henry said.

The MYEC’s members include Wesliegh Byrd from Blackhawk Christian; Aaron Downham and Taylor Burke, Bishop Dwenger; Dashaen Jordan, Eric Martin, Hamna Qureshi and Sang Jun Park, Homestead; Mackenzie Riley and Jennifer McGee, New Tech; Nicole Keesling, Aaron Orr, Harvey Gill and Aliza Adhami, Canterbury; Izta Galindo, Northrop; Sarah Johnson, Bishop Luers; De’Ja Brown, Quinesha Walker and Morgan Flowers, Snider; Ismael Aldave, Justin Thammachack, Alyssa Wolverton and Heather Richardson, South Side; and Danish Ghazali, Student Advisor, Canterbury.

RNC says ‘Oops’

The Republican National Committee made a few mistakes on a “Republican affiliation and renewal confirmation card” it sent last week to a Fort Wayne address.

For one thing, the first sentence states that the recipient is “a registered Republican voter.” There is no such animal in Indiana, which has a primary-election system that allows voters to choose either a Democratic or Republican ballot, but not both, in the same election.

For another thing, the recipient in question has never lived in Fort Wayne.

Lastly, the registered Republican voter who doesn’t live here has been dead for 16 months.

To its credit, the RNC did say on the card that it wanted to ensure the accuracy of the recipient’s contact and affiliation information, and noted that the recipient’s membership status had lapsed.

The Republican National Committee asked for a membership renewal contribution of at least $100 “or whatever amount you can afford.”

Dan Stockman of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.

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