Second Republican challenger files for county commissioner

Another Republican has joined the race for the nomination for District 1 Bartholomew County commissioner in the May primary.

Susan Thayer Fye, Hope, filed Wednesday for the commissioner seat currently held by Republican Larry Kleinhenz.

Bartholomew County Council member Jorge Morales, who announced his intentions to challenge Kleinhenz last summer, also filed for the seat on Wednesday. Kleinhenz said in December he will seek re-election.

Fye, 62, said she was encouraged to run for county commissioner by several people for a variety of reasons.

“Some decisions on the (Bartholomew County) Annex were not well received by the public, and there’s now issues regarding the salt storage barn at the county highway garage,” Fye said. “But I think a lot of things people are uncomfortable with have to do with money.”

Fye said she has also heard from a number of the more than 400 Bartholomew County employees who feel they didn’t have an adequate voice regarding recent changes in their health insurance coverage.

Fye, a self-employed property owner and manager, has been involved in city government in Columbus.

In the 2011 primary, she lost her bid to win the GOP nomination for Columbus City Council by 65 votes to former city council member Ryan Brand.

The 1971 graduate of Hauser Junior-Senior High School has previously served on the Columbus Board of Public Works and Safety and the Columbus Redevelopment Commission.

Holding a master’s degree in business administration from Indiana University, Fye served as president of Columbus Downtown Inc. before its dissolution in 2013.

Fye, who has taught college-level classes in both accounting and computer science, said she believes it’s her money-managing experience that her supporters want her to bring to county government.

“I’m a money person,” Fye said. “I run numbers in my head 24/7.”

While Fye acknowledges it is the county council members, rather than the commissioners, who are the fiscal branch of county government, she said it’s the commissioners who often decide how to spend much of that money.

After moving from Columbus to the Schaefer Lake area last August, Fye became an active volunteer with the Yellow Trail Museum. A year ago, she was chosen to succeed David Welmer on the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Merit Board.

Fye serves as a member of the board of directors member of Human Services Inc., as well as public relations officer for the Bartholomew County Landlord Association.

She also volunteers for both the Columbus Area Arts Council and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.

Susan Thayer Fye

Age: 62

Employment: Self-employed property owner and manager

Current positions: Member of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Merit Board and board of directors of Human Services, Inc.

Previously appointments: Served on the Columbus Board of Public Works and Safety and the Columbus Redevelopment Commission.

Elected offices sought: Ran unsuccessfully for Columbus City Council in 2011.

Education: 1971 graduate of Hauser Junior/Senior High School. Holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in business administration from Indiana University.

Family: Sons, Edward, 31; Tony, 29; J.J., 27; and Rick, 26; and two grandchildren.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.