The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, January 07, 2020 1:00 am


Polling places

Down-ballot races worth watching - and joining - in busy presidential year

No one needs a reminder that 2020 is an election year, but everyone needs to be reminded it's much more than a presidential election year. Indiana voters will choose representatives from school board to Congress this year. The impact of their work is every bit as important at the local level as it is in Washington – and more so, in many cases.

Wednesday is the first day of filing for candidates seeking nomination in the May 5 primary elections. Feb. 7 is the deadline to file for the spring contests. 

Thinking of running? Qualified and dedicated candidates are needed to serve now and, ideally, to prepare for higher office. The Indiana General Assembly, in particular, would benefit from representatives experienced in responding to constituents and conscious of the effect state law has on local government.

Ballots already are taking shape at the Statehouse level. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb is seeking reelection, with a challenge from first-time candidate Brian Roth, an Upland native and business owner. Former state health commissioner Dr. Woody Myers and businessman Josh Owens are seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. 

Candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general are selected at state party conventions. Attorney General Curtis Hill, the embattled incumbent, faces a challenge from Indianapolis attorney John Westercamp. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Karen Tallian and former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel seek to replace Hill.

The legislature is set for turnover, regardless of election outcomes. In addition to GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma, members not seeking reelection include Republicans Reps. David Wolkins of Warsaw, Woody Burton of Whiteland and Ron Bacon of Chandler. 

For prospective candidates wary of an ugly political campaign, Fort Wayne's recent mayoral election is worth noting. It was costly and too often strident, but most observers would agree the candidate with the more positive message prevailed. Negative campaigning doesn't always work. Candidates with a record of accomplishments and a sound plan can win.

The Fort Wayne election also showed voters eager to elect more diverse representatives. The all-male City Council gives way to a council with two women. Three of the nine members are African American. An opportunity to find diversity across the ticket would be welcome.

Overcoming the noise of the presidential election will be the biggest challenge this year. The best way to do it is with state and local elections offering first-rate candidates and contests based on ideas that will elevate all Hoosiers. 

Indiana ballots

In addition to voting for U.S. presi-dent in 2020, Indiana voters will elect:

• Nine members of the U.S. House

• Governor and lieutenant governor

• State attorney general

• 25 of 50 state senators

• 100 state representatives

• Circuit and superior court judges

• County clerk, auditor, recorder, treasurer, coroner, surveyor, assessor, commissioners and council members

• School board trustees

• Town council and clerk-treasurers

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