County council at-large field narrows

Political newcomer Matt Miller will join incumbents Bill Lentz and Evelyn Pence as the Republican nominees for Bartholomew County Council at-large.

They will be challenged in November by Democrats Pam Clark and Lynne Fleming.

The third Democrat to file to run for county council, Gabrielle “Gaby” Cheek, announced her plans last week to pull out of the race. However, Cheek did not file formal paperwork to withdraw before the primary and remains on the ballot until that process is completed.

Miller, who reached the second highest total of the five candidates, received 170 more votes than Pence — and 634 more than incumbent Jim Reed.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to beat a sitting incumbent who has been involved in the community for so long,” Miller said. “But good, old-fashioned hard work paid off.”

Reed and Michael Lovelace, who received 12 percent of Tuesday’s vote, were eliminated after the primary voting.

“I’m sad to have lost, but congratulations to the others,” Reed said.

While all three GOP incumbent Republicans have spoken out against any type of tax increase, Reed briefly supported the enactment of a so-called public safety tax proposed by fellow Republican council member Mark Gorbett last year.

However, that support was quickly withdrawn when a 2016 general fund budget was developed in late September that kept the county more than $500,000 in the black.

Lentz, the current council president, received the most support in the GOP primary — almost 26 percent.

However, the Democrats believe the GOP-filled county council has refused to listen to objective reports from their own experts who say the county needs new revenue, instead of more spending cuts, said Nancy Ann Brown, Bartholomew County Democratic Central Committee chairwoman.

Council at-large

Bartholomew County Council at-large

Republican

William F. (Bill) Lentz;8,563

Michael Lovelace;4,135

Matt Miller;7,199

Evelyn Strietelmeier Pence;7,029

James (Jim) Reed;6,565

Democrat

Gabrielle (Gaby) Cheek;3,045

Pam Clark;3,513

Lynne L. Fleming;3,268

 

Responsibilities and salary

Bartholomew County Council at-large members make final decisions about county finances, with the authority to view or review fiscal matters, determine proper policy, and set priorities for the allocation and expenditure of county funds. All three at-large members represent all county residents, while four others live in and represent specific districts.  

Annual salary: $8,117.46

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