Democrats fill slots on fall ballot

The field to fill three Bartholomew County Council at-large seats in the Nov. 8 general election has become a bit more crowded.

Local Democrats slated Diane R. Hawes to fill Gabrielle “Gaby” Cheek’s spot on the ballot, giving them three candidates for the fall along with Pam Clark and Lynne Fleming.

Josh L. Brown filed as a Libertarian for the council at-large seat.

Noon Thursday was the deadline for Libertarian and independent candidates to file for office, and for parties to slate candidates for openings on their ballots.

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Cheek withdrew as a candidate after the May primary. Hawes was approved as a candidate by the Democrats’ central committee members Wednesday night, said party chairwoman Nancy Ann Brown, who also is Hawes’ mother.

Josh Brown and the three Democrats will face Republicans Bill Lentz, Evelyn Pence and Matt Miller in the fall election. Lentz and Pence are incumbents, but Miller defeated incumbent Jim Reed in the GOP primary in May.

Hawes, 56, works at Turning Point Domestic Violence Services as the administrative assistant to the director. This is her first time seeking elected office.

She said party members approached her recently about being a candidate, and after thinking it through, she decided it would be a good fit.

“I’m a concerned citizen like a lot of people in the county and not a career politician and can go in with fresh eyes,” Hawes said.

Coming from a family with a long involvement in politics — her mother is a former Columbus mayor and husband Craig Hawes is a former city councilman — gives perspective on the positive benefits of serving the interests of residents, she said.

“Seeing the enthusiasm he (Craig) put in with city council, I knew I could potentially in this position,” Diane Hawes said.

Last year she participated in and graduated from Leadership Bartholomew County and Collaboration through Coalition Leadership. Diane Hawes has experience in communications and with 911 dispatch centers for law enforcement agencies, including in Bartholomew County. She has volunteered for a variety of organizations and events, such as the American Red Cross, the USO at Camp Atterbury, Bartholomew County Search and Rescue, Mill Race Marathon and Hope Fire Department.

Diane and Craig Hawes have two children and three grandchildren.

Josh L. Brown, 27, an engineer at Cummins Inc. for about five years, also is seeking elected office for the first time.

He said he grew up in a Republican family, but shifted toward the Libertarian Party in college. Josh Brown said he got to know Clyde Myers, the chairman of the county’s Libertarian Party, which is trying to establish itself formally, and Myers approached him about running for office.

Myers said the statewide Libertarian Party is pushing to get candidates on ballots for city and county races to help introduce voters to the party. Josh Brown said the county council at-large position was appealing because it would allow him to help solve problems, and as a part-time position he could continue his full-time job.

“I like parliamentary procedure and the idea of being able to take part in decision making. You’re presented with all kinds of issues and each one requires deliberation and thought and talking with stakeholders. A lot of what I do at work is problem solving,” Josh Brown said.

His community involvement includes being active with the youth at Community Church of Columbus, participating in neighborhood cleanups and volunteering his skills to help the city’s new homeless shelter, he said.

Josh Brown and his wife, Emily, have two children.

One independent candidate filed before the deadline. Diane Burton is seeking re-election as Hope’s clerk-treasurer.

Burton is unopposed for the position because Republicans or Democrats didn’t have candidates in the primary and didn’t slate any for the openings by Thursday’s deadline.

Next key deadline

The deadline for a person to declare their intent to be a write-in candidate for the general election is noon Tuesday.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at or (812) 379-5639.