Local candidates are giving Republicans and Democrats a reason to vote in the May 8 primary election, with competition forming at almost every level of the Bartholomew County ballot.

That’s on top of multiple-candidate filings for the 6th congressional district of the U.S. House of Representatives from both major parties, and a three-person Republican field for U.S. Senate to represent Indiana.

Locally, two Republican challengers have begun campaigns to run against first-term Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers. Rob Kittle, a former county sheriff’s deputy, and Tamara Watson, a former Indiana State Police trooper, have filed to run for sheriff against Myers, who is seeking a second term.

This is the second time Kittle has launched a campaign for sheriff. He announced his first campaign in July 2013, but withdrew from a five-person field in January 2014.

Story continues below gallery

Myers, in a 2014 first run for political office, defeated Maj. Todd Noblitt, chief deputy for the Sheriff’s Department, and two veteran sergeants, T.A. Smith and Dean Johnson, in the May Republican primary. Myers received 37.1 percent of the vote, almost 6 percentage points higher than Noblitt, the second-place finisher. Myers replaced Sheriff Mark Gorbett, who was prevented by law from seeking a third consecutive term.

In this year’s primary, Watson — in her first campaign — is seeking to become the first female sheriff in Bartholomew County history.

It’s not unheard of for a first-term sheriff to find opposition in his own party when seeking a second term, said Barb Hackman, Bartholomew County Republican Party chairwoman.

Hackman said she believe the competition reflects ambition, rather than any real dissatisfaction with the incumbent.

“Look at the post,” Hackman said. “Among political offices, sheriff is the top dog, with a great salary and good retirement.”

Other county races

Four months after raising taxes, three incumbent members of the Bartholomew County Council learned that they will have competition in two-person Republican primary races.

District 2 council member Laura DeDomenic will be opposed by Glenn Leon Petri in the Republican primary.

District 3 council member Mark Gorbett, the former sheriff, will be opposed by David A. Jones.

District 4 council member Jorge (George) Morales will be opposed by Tom Owens.

District 1 council incumbent Chris Ogle did not file for reelection, but two other Republicans did — Scott Bonnell and Marcus Speer.

Democrats have fielded county council candidates in District 1, with Hanna Omar running unopposed in the primary, and Lynne Fleming in District 4, also running unopposed in the primary.

Republican candidates for Superior Court 1 judge, prosecutor, clerk, auditor, recorder, treasurer and assessor are unopposed, along with the sole county commissioner spot on the ballot.

County treasurer Pia O’Connor and auditor Barb Hackman, the Republican Party chairwoman, who are prevented from seeking re-election to those positions because of term limits, are seeking each other’s office in the Republican primary. Republican Sandy Beatty, who had announced for auditor, but did not file papers to run.

Towns, townships

In the area’s smaller communities, competition developed for at-large town council members.

In Hope, Republican incumbent Clyde Compton will be challenged in the primary by Louis M. Kujawski Jr., whose name will appear on the ballot simply as “Lou K.”

On the Democratic ballot, incumbent Hope town council Jerry Bragg will be challenged by Chelsea Warriner in the primary.

In Edinburgh, a GOP race emerged between William “Bill” Jones and Marshall Ryan Piercefield.

Most candidates for township trustee will not have primary competition. The lone exception is in Sandcreek Township, where incumbent Sandy Bayles is being challenged by Andrew Brunni.


When six-term State Rep. Milo Smith announced Jan. 11 that he would not seek re-election in District 59, the only candidate to have stepped forward at that time was Ryan Lauer. But John D. Counceller and Bartholomew County Assessor Lew Wilson threw their hats in the ring over the next few weeks. Benjamin Chastain and Allen K. Smith II added their names on Friday’s final day of filing, setting up a six-person race in the Republican primary.

Democrats will have a primary decision to make of their own as Columbus North High School educator Dale Nowlin and community activist Mary Kohen will face off in the May primary for the District 59 position.

In the District 69 race, representing a small portion of southern Bartholomew County, Nancy Franke will again challenge incumbent State Rep. Jim Lucas on the Republican ballot. Two years ago, Lucas received 60.5 percent of the vote, to 39.5 percent for Franke. Charles Johnson will also try to unseat Lucas in the three-person Republican May primary.

Meanwhile, District 67 State Rep. Sean Eberhart, who represents a portion of northeast Bartholomew County, will be challenged in the primary by Luke Campbell.


After more than five years of representing Columbus in Washington, Congressman Luke Messer is one of three Republicans hoping to challenge Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly in November. The other Republican candidates are former State Rep. Mike Braun and Congressman Todd Rokita.

But with Messer leaving the U.S. House of Representatives, seven Republicans _ including Columbus businessman Greg Pence _ are trying to win his seat and represent Indiana’s 6th Congressional District.

Pence, the oldest brother of U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence, is in a contest with Thomas G. Ferkinhoff, Jonathan M. Lamb; Mike Campbell, Stephen M. Mackenzie, Bill Frazier and Jeff Smith.

On the Democrat ballot, six candidates will compete in the primary: Jim Pruett, Lane Siekman, Jeannine Lee Lake, K. Jasen Lave, George Holland and Joshua Williamson.

What such a large field of congressional candidates says about the local political climate is up for interpretation.

Full slates in both parties indicates disappointment with the policies of President Donald Trump among both Democrats and traditional Republicans, said Bob Hyatt, chairman of the Bartholomew County Democratic Party.

Hyatt said he sees a larges segment of Bartholomew County voters supporting Democrats in 2018.

But his GOP counterpart, Bartholomew County Republican Party chairwoman Hackman, sees no sign of a blue wave emerging on the local political horizon.

The large number of GOP candidates suggests nothing more than a desire to become involved and make life better for others, she said.

What’s ahead?

All candidates have until noon Monday to change their minds and not run for office.

Although the deadline for individuals to file their own candidacies expired at noon Friday, the Republican and Democratic parties can fill empty ballot slots between May 9 and June 30, Phelps said.

Hyatt says he anticipates he will do exactly that late this spring and early this summer.

Republican candidates

U.S. Senator

» Mike Braun

» Luke Messer

» Todd Rokita

U.S. Representative — Sixth District

» Mike Campbell

» Thomas G. Ferkinhoff

» Bill Frazier

» Jonathan M. Lamb

» Stephen M. Mackenzie

» Greg Pence

» Jeff Smith

State Senator, District 41

» Greg Walker

State Senator, District 43

» Clyde A. “Chip” Perfect Jr.

State Representative, District 57

» Luke Campbell

» Sean Eberhart

State Representative, District 59

» Benjamin C. Chastain

» John D. Counceller

» JoAnne Flohr

» Ryan Lauer

» Allen K. Smith II

» Lew Wilson

State Representative, District 69

» Nancy L. Franke

» Charles Johnson

» Jim Lucas

Judge of Bartholomew Superior Court 1

» James “Jim” Worton

Prosecuting Attorney

» William M. (Bill) Nash

Clerk of the Circuit Court

» Jay Phelps

Bartholomew County Auditor

» Pia O’Connor

Bartholomew County Recorder

» Tami L. Hines

Bartholomew County Treasurer

» Barb Hackman

Bartholomew County Sheriff

» Robert (Rob) V. Kittle Jr.

» Matthew A. Myers

» Tamara Watson

Bartholomew County Assessor

» Ginny Whipple

Bartholomew County Commissioner, District 2

» Carl H. Lienhoop

Bartholomew County Council, District 1

» Scott Bonnell

» Marcus D. Speer

Bartholomew County Council, District 2

» Laura DeDomenic

» Glenn Leon Petri

Bartholomew County Council, District 3

» Mark E. Gorbett

» David A. Jones

Bartholomew County Council, District 4

» Jorge (George) Morales

» Tom Owens

Columbus Township Trustee

» Ben Jackson

Clay Township Trustee

» John A. McDonald

Flatrock Township Trustee

» Lisa Moore

German Township Trustee

» Chris West

Harrison Township Trustee

» David Dwyer

Hawcreek Township Trustee

» Ronald D. Hatton

Jackson Township Trustee

» Bruce F. Bartells

Ohio Township Trustee

» Rob Simpson

Rockcreek Township Trustee

» Gary W. Jaquess

Sandcreek Township Trustee

» Sandy Bayles

» Andrew Brunni

Wayne Township Trustee

» Brenda K. Mijares

Clay Township Advisory Board

» Frank Anderson

» Roger L. Fromer

Clifty Township Advisory Board

» William L. Erfmeier

Columbus Township Advisory Board

» J. Stuart (Stu) Cundiff

» Lloyd E. Miller

» Michael Shireman

Flatrock Township Advisory Board

» Christi Bruer

» Charlie Deweese

» Tom R. Finke

German Township Advisory Board

» Larry W. Hoeltke

» James A. Stevens

Harrison Township Advisory Board

» Robert H. Fear

» Dana Lynn Parks

» Sharon Voelz

Jackson Township Advisory Board

» Sue Ann Lee

» Luke C. Otte

Ohio Township Advisory Board

» Carolyn Massengale

Rockcreek Township Advisory Board

» Garry L. Barker

» Jim Reed

» Ronald Speer

Sandcreek Township Advisory Board

» Ronald H. Hoevener

Wayne Township Advisory Board

» Michael R. Bell

» Joshua W. Ogle

Elizabethtown Clerk-Treasurer

» Judy L. Nichols

Clifford Council At-Large

» Bonnie “B.J.” Everroad

» Charlie Bob Moore

Edinburgh Council At-Large

» William (Bill) Jones

» Marshall Ryan Piercefield

Elizabethtown Council At-Large

» Shannon Henson

» Robert Tertocha

Hope Council At-Large

» Clyde Compton

» Lou K. (full name: Louis M. Kujawski, Jr.)

State Convention Delegate

» Roger D. Hackman

» Barb Hackman

» Greg Harter

» Marilyn Harter

» DeWayne Hines

» Tami L. Hines

» Ben Jackson

» Isaac P. Jackson

» Matt Miller

» Chris D. Monroe

» John Shoaf

» Teresa Shoaf

Democrat candidates

U.S. Senator

» Joe Donnelly

U.S. Representative — Sixth District

» George Holland

» Jeannine Lee Lake

» K. (Jasen) Lave

» Jim Pruett

» Lane Siekman

» Joshua Williamson

State Senator, District 41

» Ross Thomas

State Representative, District 59

» Mary Kohen

» Dale Nowlin

State Representative, District 69

» Steve Schoettmer

Bartholomew County Council, District 1

» Hanna Omar

Bartholomew County Council, District 4

» Lynne Fleming

Clifty Township Trustee

» Mark S. Romine

Rockcreek Township Trustee

» Dennis Brooks

German Township Advisory Board

» James Mahoney

» Kari G. Tyree

Harrison Township Advisory Board

» Bob Hyatt

Hawcreek Township Advisory Board

» Georgia C. McCarty

» Kim A. Miller

Jackson Township Advisory Board

» Joe Hoene

» Paul A. Newkirk

Rockcreek Township Advisory Board

» F. Norma Carson

» Terry L. Sweasy

» Stephen Whiteside

Sandcreek Township Advisory Board

» David R. Skinner

» Roger Williams

Wayne Township Advisory Board

» Dennis Tibbetts

Clifford Council At-Large

» Danny James

» Ed Stone

» Carroll D. Thompson

Edinburgh Council At-Large

» Ron Hoffman

Hope Council At-Large

» Jerry Bragg

» Chelsea Warriner

State Convention Delegate

» Heather Anne Allen

» Brandon J. Allen

» Lydi Davidson

» Ramon L. Gerber

» Susan Gerber

» David A. Harpenau

» Judith Harpenau

» Ann L. Jones

» William D. Jones

» Mark Kevitt

» Sharon Krieg

» Bob Moats

» Richard “Rick” Scalf

» Steve Schoettmer

» Jean Marr Wilkins

Precinct Committeeman

» Susan Gerber

» Mark Kevitt

» Sandra L. Crawford

» David A. Harpenau

» Dennis W. Baute

» Virginia Moats

» Richard “Rick” Scalf

» Sharon Krieg

» Brandon J. Allen

» Bob Moats

» John Keele

» Robert “Bob” Pitman

» Maria C. Larson

» Jean Marr Wilkins

» Mark S. Romine

» Mary Kohen

» Robert L. Forste

» Nellie Meek

» Marsha Morgan

» Brad Woodcock

» Steve Schoettmer

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