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Former two-term Bartholomew County Sheriff Kenny Whipker will fill the vacant at-large seat on Columbus City Council.
Bartholomew County Republicans representing Columbus precincts chose Whipker from a field of eight candidates, taking seven votes to make the decision. Each vote removed the lowest vote-getting candidate and voting continued until a majority was reached.
The last vote Monday night came down to Whipker and Susan Fye, a member of the Board of Public Works and Safety and the Columbus Redevelopment Commission.
Republican council member Aaron Hankins, who held one of the two at-large seats on the body, announced last month that he was stepping down from the seat he held for about 20 months to take a work opportunity out of the area.
Whipker said that he was prompted to seek the vacant seat because of his interest in what is going on downtown and in his own neighborhood, which is part of the 11th and Washington streets revitalization efforts. Whipker said he moved into the city in 1996 and into his current Franklin Street home in 2000.
Whipker said his experience in law enforcement would help with the city’s public safety efforts. In his current job with the Department of Correction, he travels to counties performing jail audits and training and works with the Legislature on jail policies, procedures and finances.
Monday’s votes were made in a private Republican caucus and vote totals were not available, said Barb Hackman, the county chairwoman. She said that of the 36 precincts with committee members, 26 participated in the process.
Before the votes began, each candidate was allowed to make a two-minute presentation to the caucus. Whipker said that his presentation focused on being a Ronald Reagan conservative who believes in limited government, his 27 years with the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department and his experience managing large budgets and personnel.
“Believing in limited government, I want to look at the budget and see exactly what we were paying for in city government,” Whipker said. “I kind of think along the lines that government is responsible for public safety, public health and infrastructure and those types of things. Beyond all of that ... what else are we paying for?”
Whipker said his first order of business will be to get up to speed on current city issues and finances.
“I am forward thinking,” Whipker said. “To me, you plan a budget not for next year, but you plan a budget for at least five years down the road.”
“I think having seven ballots really showed the quality of the candidates,” Hackman said. “I think that was a good showing for the Republican party that there are that many people who are willing to put their name up for the community.”
Position: At-large Columbus City Council
Address: Franklin Street
Family: Wife, Susan; adult children, Andy, 30, and Abby, 25
Job: Executive liaison for sheriff and county jail operations for Indiana Department of Correction
Former positions: Two-term Bartholomew County Sheriff 1999-2007, former chief deputy sheriff, retired command master sergeant, U.S. Army
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