Candidates, voters invited to Oct. 9 town hall

A grassroots organization is inviting community members and candidates in the upcoming municipal election to attend a town hall on local issues.

“Put People First: Columbus Town Hall” will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 9 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Registration is highly recommended, and a link is available at

The event is being hosted by the Bartholomew County chapter of Hoosier Action, which is a community organization based in southern Indiana with members across the state. Its mission is to ensure that all Hoosiers “have a say in the decisions which affect their lives.”

“The “Put People First” Town Hall will focus on three key local issues: housing, addiction, and government transparency,” the organization said in a release. “These issues were identified through more than 250 conversations with Columbus citizens held by last spring, and described in the People’s Platform created by the Bartholomew County chapter.”

Stephanie Zhang, Bartholomew County community organizer with the group, said that their goal for the event is to provide an opportunity for people to come together and discuss local issues with candidates.

“The format of the event will be some variation of community building, sharing experiences and pre-prepared questions based on the top issues that we’ve heard and an opportunity for attendees to submit questions as well,” Zhang said.

There will also be an opportunity for attendees to register to vote, as the deadline to do so is Oct. 10.

Organizers have invited candidates for mayor and Columbus City Council to attend the event. As of Monday morning, 11 had RSVP’d for the event:

  • Sean Burton — Mayoral candidate (Independent)
  • Christopher Rutan — City Council at-large candidate (R)
  • Alex Engelbert — City Council at-large candidate (R)
  • Grace Kestler — City Council at-large incumbent (D)
  • Paul Hoffman — City Council at-large candidate (D)
  • Nick Slabaugh — City Council District 1 candidate (D)
  • Elaine Hilber — City Council District 2 incumbent (D)
  • Frank Miller — City Council District 4 incumbent (R)
  • Keegan Hill — City Council District 4 candidate (D)
  • Kent Anderson — City Council District 5 candidate (R)
  • Eric Riddle — City Council District 5 candidate (D)

Zhang added that they hope to see other candidates RSVP as well.

“There aren’t a whole lot of opportunities, at least from what I have seen and from what we as community members have seen, for just normal folks to talk to and make our most prevalent concerns in the community heard to the folks running for office,” she said.

Hoosier Action also plans to create and distribute a non-partisan voter guide based on the town hall and candidates’ responses to a seven-question survey.

Community members who plan to attend the town hall are highly encouraged to register ahead of time so that organizers can set up the space accordingly and provide adequate food, Zhang said.

If you go

What: Put People First – Columbus Town Hall

When: 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 9

Where: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 2651 California St.

Additional information: Registration is highly recommended, and a link is available at