The mayors of Indiana‘s largest cities cruised to victory in Tuesday‘s primary, but some smaller-town mayors got tripped up. Eight mayors lost their reelection bids — five of them couldn‘t even crack 40-percent. A federal indictment doomed Lake Station‘s Democratic Mayor Keith Soderquist, but Republican voters in Martinsville and Columbus threw out Mayors Phil Deckard and Kristen Brown in favor of city council members Shannon Kohl and Jim Lienhoop. Kohl has no Democratic opponent and will likely be Martinsville‘s first woman mayor.
Lebanon Mayor Huck Lewis lost to Matt Gentry by more than two-to-one. At the other extreme, Jack Wilson unseated Delphi Mayor Randy Strasser by 10 votes. Voters also unseated incumbents in Garrett, Mitchell, and Rochester. It wasn‘t a good night to be a former mayor either. Ex-mayors Kris Ockomon in Anderson, Bill Henry in Marion and Tom Nipp in New Castle lost their campaigns to be renominated for their old jobs.
Columbus was the largest city to show an incumbent the door. Other than Brown, the lowest tally for a mayor in Indiana‘s 25 largest cities was the still-comfortable 58-percent racked up by Noblesville‘s John Ditslear.
As expected, it‘ll be Joe Hogsett versus Chuck Brewer in the race for mayor of Indianapolis. Both Hogsett and Brewer clobbered their primary opponents by eight-to-one margins. Hogsett, the former U-S Attorney, piled up 89-percent of the Democratic vote against community activist Larry Vaughn, while restaurant owner Brewer held four opponents to single digits while rolling up 77-percent of the Republican vote. Hogsett acknowledges it would have been tough to take on retiring Republican incumbent Greg Ballard. But with an open seat, he says he‘ll offer ideas for expanding Ballard‘s preschool plan, fighting crime, and attracting jobs. Brewer is emphasizing his business background. He says his experience at a Fortune 500 company has trained him to find efficiencies and innovations. Only three of the 25 City-County Council seats were contested, and voters rebelled against the choices of party slating conventions. Maverick Republican Councillor Christine Scales lost the party‘s endorsement, but defeated slated challenger Tim Craft 54-to-46-percent. The missing at-large seats sparked a two-incumbent Democratic primary, with slated candidate Leroy Robinson squeaking past Angela Mansfield by 26 votes. And Democratic voters rejected slated candidate Stephanie Vibbert in favor of Jared Evans to oppose Republican Councillor Robert Lutz.