Candidates begin filing for city primary

A contested race emerged the first day candidates could file paperwork for elected offices in Columbus in the May primary.

Republican Russell Poling Sr. formalized his candidacy Wednesday for the Columbus City Council District 3 seat currently held by Republican Frank Jerome.

Jerome and Republican District 1 councilman Dascal Bunch also filed their declarations of candidacy with

the Bartholomew County

Clerk’s Office.

Mayor Kristen Brown, a Republican, has not yet announced whether she would seek a second term. City Council at-large member Jim Lienhoop, also a Republican, announced in mid-November that he would seek the mayor’s office.

Filing deadline for the

May 6 primary is noon Feb. 6 for candidates from the two major political parties.

Jerome, seeking a second term, said he wants to continue work on projects that began during his first three years, and tackle some new ones that need attention.

Among them are Columbus’ flooding problems and looking at storm sewer repair, he said.

Jerome described his work with the aviation commission to have student housing built on the Columbus Municipal Airport airpark property as a monumental change for the city. He hopes to continue work on the possibility of Indiana University Center for Art + Design expanding its program into the Sears property downtown.

Jerome wasn’t surprised at being among the first to have a primary opponent.

“That’s the nature of the game,” he said.

Poling was appointed to serve on the Columbus Redevelopment Commission by Brown in April 2014. He works at Cummins Inc. as the Heavy Duty Global Division Field Service Engineer Leader, providing technical guidance and training to fuel service engineers globally.

Poling had never sought public office before, but said his work on the redevelopment commission has inspired him to contribute to the city on a larger scale.

“I just really wanted to help the city,” he said.

Poling said running against Jerome is nothing personal. He said he feels he can do a better job when it comes to getting things done for residents.

“I have a lot of respect for Frank. He stepped up to the plate and served,” he said.

Poling said the current council takes a long time to make decisions.

“They could move a little quicker,” he said. “I want to make sure I’m responsive to the people.”

Bunch said he was initially hesitant about seeking a second term. After talking with friends, family and residents, he decided it was the right thing to do.

“I’m just trying to give back to community over the years,” he said. “There’s some things we got started that I would really like to see get going or completed.”

Seeing the completion of the rebuild of Indiana Avenue and the beginning of the

revitalization of State Street are both things Bunch said he hopes to witness if he’s re-elected.

Seats held by District 2 council member Ryan Brand, District 4 member Frank Miller, District 5 member Tim Shuffett and at-large member Kenny Whipker are also up for election.

Columbus Clerk-Treasurer Luann Welmer also said she will seek re-election in the municipal primary, although she had not filed paperwork for her candidacy Wednesday.

Welmer said she’s excited about having a chance to continue serving as the clerk-treasurer.

“We’ve accomplished so much in the last three years,” she said. “It just seems very natural to continue with the progress we’ve made so far.”

Columbus Primary

Here’s a list of all of the City of Columbus offices that will be considered for the municipal primary in May:

Mayor of Columbus:

— Current office holder: Kristen Brown, R

— Challenger: Jim Lienhoop, R

Clerk-Treasurer of Columbus

— Current Office Holder: Luann Welmer, R

— Challenger: None announced yet

City Council District 1

— Current Office Holder: Dascal Bunch, R

— Challenger: None announced yet

City Council District 2

— Current Office Holder: Ryan Brand, R

— Challenger: None announced yet

City Council District 3

— Current office holder: Frank Jerome, R

— Challenger: Russell Poling Sr., R

City Council District 4

— Current office holder: Frank Miller, R

— Challenger: None announced yet

City Council District 5

— Current office holder: Tim Shuffett, R

— Challenger: None announced yet

City Council At Large 1

— Current office holder: Kenny Whipker, R

— Challenger: None announced yet

City Council At Large 2

— Current office holder: Jim Lienhoop (seeking election as mayor)

— Candidates: None announced yet