Republicans retain Hackman as party chairwoman

Barb Hackman has won another four-year term as chairwoman of the Bartholomew County Republican Central Committee.

By a vote of 59-17, Hackman was chosen Saturday by local GOP precinct committee members over fellow Republican Lisa Deaton.

Other incumbent party officers who ran unopposed were also re-elected to serve another term. They are: DeWayne Hines, vice-chairman; Jorge Morales, secretary; and Luann Welmer, treasurer.

Nearly every election conducted for the past 20 years has shown Bartholomew County to be a Republican stronghold, and Hackman said she doesn’t foresee anything that is likely to weaken the local party.

Despite current national controversies, Hackman said she believes President Donald Trump will remain popular with local Republicans when they go to the polls for next year’s mid-term elections.

However, she said she believes her party’s candidates will benefit most next year from their association with Vice President Mike Pence, the Columbus native who just completed four years as Indiana governor.

“He’s such a strong leader, and it will help the Republican Party going forward,” Hackman said.

A 1974 graduate of Columbus East High School, Barbara Eckelman Hackman began her professional career in government in 1983.

She worked for more than 13 years in the auditor’s office under fellow Republicans Sue Paris and Vernon Jewell, where her duties included being the county’s payroll administrator.

Hackman then moved to the Bartholomew County treasurer’s office, where she served her final three years in that department as an administrator.

While considered a steady presence in county government for 34 years, Hackman’s rise in Bartholomew County politics has coincided with unusual circumstances.

After unsuccessfully challenging fellow Republican Betty Jean Beshear for county auditor in 2002, Hackman was chosen Columbus Township Assessor by precinct committee members the following year after Katie Garvey was suspended for improprieties.

When former County Auditor Nancy McKinney died during an October 2008 residential fire, GOP precinct committee members chose Hackman to be her successor. Hackman ran unopposed for that same office two years later.

In 2009, she was selected vice chairperson of the Bartholomew County Republican Party, and became chairwoman after her predecessor, Ted Ogle, died of cancer in January 2013.

Although there are no elections on the ballot this year, local Republicans will be kept busy this month with upcoming changes in the Sixth Congressional District GOP leadership, Hackman said.

Madison attorney Mark Wynn, who succeeded Ogle as the district chairman, has announced he will not seek re-election to the post.

Barb Hackman

Position: Chairwoman of the Bartholomew County Republican Central Committee

Hometown: Columbus.

Career: Bartholomew County Auditor since November 2008. Served as Columbus Township assessor from 2003 to 2008. Has worked in various positions, including administrator in both the county auditor’s and county treasurer’s offices since starting her career in county government as an administrative assistant to the sheriff in 1983.

Community: Currently active with the Rotary Club; leadership roles at St. Peter’s Lutheran School; 4-H leader; former 4-H council member; Indiana Farm Bureau member; past Columbus Township Indiana Farm Bureau director; past young farmer director for Farm Bureau; Republican Ladies League member; vice precinct committeewoman.

Education: 1974 graduate of Columbus East High School.

Family: Husband, John, a farmer. Two adult daughters, six 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.