3 Democratic candidates uncontested; none in running for city’s top position

Bartholomew County Democratic Party leaders are thinking about slating a mayoral candidate after the city’s May 5 primary, chairwoman Priscilla Scalf said.

No Democrats filed by Friday’s primary deadline to run for mayor, but one can be slated by the party prior to June 30 — to be placed on the general election ballot.

Three Democrats did file for City Council positions, but won’t have opposition until the general election.

Christopher Rutan is seeking the Democratic nomination for Columbus City Council District 1, Elaine Wagner for City Council District 2 and Tom Dell for an at-large council spot.

Scalf said she’s excited about the early slate of Democratic candidates, vowing that party leaders will add more candidates before the general election.

“We’re doing some candidate training and some young Democrat training,” she said. “Elaine Wagner is perfect example. They’re really the next leaders in the community.”

Wagner said she would like to engage younger residents and get them involved in the city’s future. She thinks she can bring a fresh perspective to the council that will allow for new ideas.

Scalf admitted that the party has struggled to get Democratic supporters to the polls during past elections and to field candidates for city and county positions.

By recruiting new Democrats and educating existing Democrats on the importance of community involvement, she thinks the local party could get more Democrats elected to office.

Some of the top issues for Democrats are envisioning a plan for Columbus’ future and getting younger residents involved in politics, she said. Those are issues the party can tackle by getting out in the community and talking to people, she said.

Rutan said the current city council has good a done job, but he thinks there could be improvements. Rutan said he wants to be a voice for residents living on the east side of Columbus and in the Ninth Street neighborhood.

Removing blighted structures and increasing safety in Columbus neighborhoods are issues Rutan said he will address.

Dell said the top issues he would like to work on are economic development, job growth and city infrastructure.

Even though none of the Democratic candidates have challengers, Scalf said it’s important they begin campaigning before the May primary.

“They still need to get people to know them. You still need that time frame,” she said. “We’re going to be encouraging them to be doing things like going door-to-door.”

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Here is a list of the Democratic candidates who filed for the May primary election:

  • Christopher Rutan, City Council District 1
  • Elaine Wagner, City Council District 2
  • Tom Dell, City Council At-Large