A retired administrator and long-time community leader is the new chairman of the Bartholomew County Democratic Central Committee.

Robert “Bob” Hyatt was chosen to succeed Nancy Ann Brown-Poynter as head of the local Democratic party during a Saturday meeting attended by about 50 people.

Hyatt will serve a four-year term as chairman of the local party. Other officers selected by precinct committeemen and vice-precinct committee members were Kathy Thompson, vice-chairman; Dennis Baute, treasurer; and Sharon Krieg, secretary.

Hyatt, who served as director of invoicing and credit operations for Cummins Inc. until his retirement in 2000, said his party has done much over the past year to strengthen the organization.

“We had good candidates running in 2016,” Hyatt said.

“But they were not successful because of the Trump tsunami.”

However, a string of recent controversies involving President Donald Trump are “definitely increasing the enthusiasm, and really getting a lot of people motivated to protest Trump’s policies,” Hyatt said.

That enthusiasm also has been fed on the state level by concerns with the GOP-dominated Indiana General Assembly in regard to a perceived unwillingness to redraw legislative districts, Hyatt said.

“Both parties have been guilty of gerrymandering in the past,” Hyatt said. “But we just need to end it with a bipartisan approach.”

Hyatt said he is most bothered by proposed tax increases for items such as gasoline and cigarettes that would disproportionately target lower-income Hoosiers.

Local Democrats have set a priority of winning county, state and federal offices in 2018, the new county chairman said.

Although Democrats helped organize the Bartholomew County Indivisible group in January, the local party is no longer directly involved with the grassroots group. That change allows the new organization to seek bipartisan support for its causes, Hyatt said

In 1989, Hyatt became the first president of Housing Partnerships, Inc. at a time when it was a coalition of 10 churches dedicated to securing homes for low-income families.

Today, HPI is part of the Thrive Alliance organization that also includes Aging and Community Services of South Central Indiana Inc.

Hyatt received the 1991 Distinguished Leadership Award from the National Association of Community Leadership during the organization’s conference in Denver.

Besides HPI, he has also been active in other community efforts such as Columbus Child Care Center, Leadership Bartholomew County and unCommon Cause.

Brown-Poynter, who was elected party chairman in January 2016, did not seek re-election. There were no contested races during Saturday’s voting, Hyatt said.

Bob Hyatt

Position: Chairman of the Bartholomew County Democratic Central Committee.

Hometown: Washington, Indiana

Career: Retired after 26 years working in corporate financing with Cummins Inc. in September 2000. Has spent the past nine years renovating homes.

Community: Served as first president of Housing Partnerships, Inc. Graduated from Leadership Bartholomew County in 1991. Elected to the board of directors of Columbus Child Care Center, Inc. and Leadership Bartholomew County. Also volunteered extensively with the unCommon Cause event.

Education: Graduate of Washington (Indiana) High School. Received undergraduate degree from Wabash College and an MBA from Indiana University.

Military: Vietnam War veteran

Family: Wife, Cate; three adult children.

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