The Bartholomew County Democratic Party took a step toward making the general election more contested by slating two candidates at its caucus, and it plans to look for more to add to its ticket before the upcoming filing deadline.
About 26 residents packed into local Democratic headquarters, 431 S. Mapleton St., on Saturday morning to see who would be considered for open positions on the party’s ballot.
Zack Ellison was chosen as the party’s nominee for District 59 state representative and Rose Johnson was chosen as the nominee for county clerk.
Ellison will face Republican incumbent Milo Smith in the Nov. 4 general election and Johnson will face Republican nominee Jay Phelps.
Bartholomew County Democratic Party Chairwoman Priscilla Scalf said even with Ellison and Johnson chosen as nominees, there are still quite a few open seats to fill for the upcoming election. Notably, Democrats do not have candidates for sheriff, Superior Court 2 judge, prosecutor, County Council Districts 2 and 3, County Commissioner District 2, treasurer, auditor, assessor and recorder.
“We have until June 30. We still have some people that we’re talking to and we have a search committee,” Scalf said. “They’re out talking to people and so we’ll see what happens. We’re still out there looking.”
Parties can by state law fill openings on their ballot by caucus if no candidate filed for an office for the primary election.
Johnson ran unsuccessfully for county recorder in 2010. She will run for county clerk for the first time, she said.
She has worked in the county treasurer’s office for 19 years handling bankruptcies and tax sales and said she wanted to give voters another candidate to look into.
Johnson said she would like to change the current filing system in the clerk’s office from a paper system to a digital system, something she is already used to in the treasurer’s office.
“That would have to really be researched a lot to know exactly what would work the best,” she said of the digital options.
Ellison is vice chairman of the local Democratic Party and chairs the Bartholomew County Plan Commission and Columbus Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Board. Ellison twice lost general elections for County Council District 4.
Ellison said he plans to run a campaign that focuses on education, health care and jobs in Bartholomew County.
He also answered questions from the crowd about same-sex marriage and improving jobs in Bartholomew County.
“I’m a supporter of ... increasing the minimum wage,” he said while answering the crowd. “They in turn spend that money in the community and that rolls over about three-and-a-half times.”
Ellison told the crowd he thought increasing the minimum wage to $10 an hour would be a good start.