Democrats file for council, clerk races

Four more Democrats have filed for 2023 city elections.

Incumbent Councilman Jerone Wood, who currently represents District 1, has filed to run for Columbus City Council’s District 3 seat due to new district maps.

Michael Kinder has also joined the District 3 race, and incumbent Councilman-at-large Tom Dell has filed for re-election.

Quisha Jackson has filed to run for Columbus city clerk. Incumbent Columbus City Clerk-Treasurer Luann Welmer, a Republican, filed for the position earlier this month.

The deadline to file for primary elections is noon today, and the deadline to withdraw as a candidate is Feb. 10. Filings are completed in person at the Bartholomew County Clerk’s office at the courthouse.

Wood was elected to city council in 2019, unseating Republican Councilman Dascal Bunch by one vote and also beating Kinder. Kinder, who ran as an independent candidate at the time, has now filed to run as a Democrat. He currently serves on the Columbus Plan Commission.

In addition to Wood and Kinder, Democrat Tony Hayden and Republican Sue Norman-Chapple have also filed for District 3.

Five candidates have filed for Columbus City Council at-large — Dell and fellow Democrat incumbent Grace Kestler, and Republicans Alex Engelbert, Christopher Rutan and Josh Burnett.

Republican Christopher Bartels and Democrat Nick Slabaugh are running for District 1. Incumbent Councilwoman Elaine Hilber, a Democrat representing District 2, is seeking re-election, as is incumbent Republican Councilman Frank Miller in District 4. Republican Kent Anderson has filed to run for District 5.

So far, no candidates have emerged for the council’s new District 6 seat, which represents portions of central and north Columbus.

Jackson, now running for city clerk, ran for Bartholomew County Clerk in 2022 but lost to Republican incumbent Shari Lentz.

The role of city clerk comes with somewhat different responsibilities than Columbus’s current clerk-treasurer position. The change is due to the city’s recent decision to adopt second class status.

Indiana Code specifies that while third class cities, such as Columbus, elect a clerk-treasurer, second class cities elect a clerk. Both positions fill the role of city clerk; however, the clerk-treasurer also serves as the city’s fiscal officer. In a second class city, the fiscal officer is a city controller appointed by the mayor.

Republicans Mary Ferdon and Milo Smith are running for mayor of Columbus. Former Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers, who is a Republican, has withdrawn his candidacy, as has Democrat Sean Webster.