Ready to run? Filing opens

The 2016 election cycle in the Columbus area is about to begin.

Although several candidates have announced their intentions, Wednesday will mark the first day candidates may officially file to have their names on the May 3 primary ballot.

Those who plan to run for a federal, state, county or a local office in Hope have until noon Feb. 5 to file.

While the presidential race is likely to garner the most interest among Hoosiers this year, 26 other states will have primaries before Indiana. In addition, 16 caucuses are being held nationwide before May 3.

Unlike a primary, where voters cast ballots, a caucus involves party members dividing into groups at one location, followed by arguments attempting to sway those members before delegates are chosen for candidates.

Hoosier Republicans will determine in May which of two incumbent congressmen — Marlin Stutzman or Todd Young — will be the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Dan Coats. In June, Democrat Baron Hill of Seymour announced his intention to seek that same seat.

For the state, the second-highest profile race is expected to be Indiana governor.

Republican incumbent Mike Pence is expected to face Democrat John Gregg, who lost to Pence in 2012 by 3 percentage points.

Another race expected to have regional interest this year is District 59 state representative. Democrat Bob Pittman has announced he intends to challenge incumbent Republican Milo Smith. The incumbent has not announced his plans, but county assessor Lew Wilson has indicated he will seek the seat as a Republican.

The district includes Columbus and much of Bartholomew County.

One of the biggest local races may be determined during the primary: District 1 Bartholomew County commissioner.

Incumbent Larry Kleinhenz is expected to be challenged in May by at least two fellow Republicans, including current county council member Jorge Morales.

The other is Susan Thayer Fye, a former member of the Columbus Board of Works and Public Safety and current member of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Merit Board. Fye said she plans to file the necessary paperwork this week for that seat.

The three commissioners, which now include Kleinhenz, Carl Lienhoop and Rick Flohr — all Republicans — are the administrative arm of county government who set policy, adopt ordinances and carry out the county’s daily operations.

There will be at least two Republicans seeking the nomination for Bartholomew Circuit judge.

Kelly Sue Benjamin and Scott C. Andrews are seeking the Republican nomination in hopes of succeeding retiring Democrat Stephen Heimann. No Democrat has yet announced plans to seek the office.

Last summer, two Republicans — Ronald W. Shadley Sr. and Clayton R. Nolting — announced their intention to run for Bartholomew County coroner in hopes of succeeding Larry Fisher, who is retiring. Democrat Paula K. Rothrock is unopposed so far in her efforts to seek her party’s nomination for coroner.

There are also three at-large Bartholomew County Council members up for re-election: Evelyn Pence, Jim Reed and Bill Lentz, all Republicans.

Columbus businessman and former law enforcement officer Matt Miller, also a Republican, announced last fall he intends to seek one of those at-large seats.

No public announcements have been made at this time regarding the office of Bartholomew County surveyor, which has been held by Republican E.R. Gray since 1985.

Meanwhile, three of five Hope Town Council seats are up for election this year. They are occupied by Jonathan Titus (Ward 1), Greg Sims (Ward 2) and Ohmer Miller (Ward 3). Miller was appointed in 2015 to serve the remaining term of Paula Pollitt, who died June.

The position of Hope clerk-treasurer, held by Diane Burton, is also up for election this year.

Upcoming election dates

Wednesday: Candidates may file for the 2016 primary.

Feb. 5: Deadline for candidates to place their name on the primary ballot. 

April 4: Deadline to register to vote for the primary.

May 3: Voting in the primary.

Keeping up with the candidates

Candidate filing for the 2016 primary begins Wednesday.

Those wishing to see who has filed can do so on the web by going to and clicking on “candidate filing” on the home page, Bartholomew County Clerk Jay Phelps said.

The candidate list will be updated every 30 minutes, Phelps said.

Certain candidates trying to get on the statewide ballot are required by state law to gather 4,500 signatures to earn placement on the ballot in Indiana. These offices that would need signatures include: president, U.S. Senate and Indiana governor.

Starting Wednesday, campaigns can begin submitting these petitions to Phelps’ office for verification of signatures. The deadline to submit signatures is noon Jan. 26, Phelps said.   

2016 offices up for election

The following federal and state offices will be on the primary and general election ballots for 2016 in Bartholomew County:

  • President of the United States
  • U.S. senator
  • Indiana governor
  • U.S. representative (District 6)
  • State senator (District 44)
  • State representative (District 57)
  • State representative (District 59)
  • State representative (District 69)

The following local and Bartholomew County offices will also be on the primary and general election ballots:

  • Circuit court Judge
  • Coroner
  • Surveyor
  • County commissioner (District 1)
  • County council at-large
  • Hope clerk-treasurer
  • Hope Town Council (Wards 1, 2 and 3)
Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.