2020 Local Primaries: Few contested primary races so far with 3 weeks to go for candidate filings

Since Jan. 8, the first day that declarations of candidacy could be filed this year for primary nominations, a dozen or so people have filed their paperwork for offices in the Monroe County area. Candidates have until noon Feb. 7 to file a declaration.

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At least one primary race will be contested—for the three at-large county councilor positions. After issuing a joint press release announcing their intention to seek re-election, incumbent Democrats Trent Deckard, Geoff McKim, and Cheryl Munson all filed their declarations Friday a week ago (Jan. 10).

Joining the three county council incumbents on the May 5 Democratic Party primary ballot will be Dominic Thompson, who filed his declaration the day before the three incumbents did.

Another Democratic Party primary race that looks like it will be contested is the one for the District 61 House seat. Incumbent Matt Pierce has filed his declaration. Daniel Olsson dropped by the first organizational meeting of the Monroe County Greens last fall to ask about Green Party endorsement policies for non-Green Party candidates—because he’s seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for Pierce’s seat. Olsson hasn’t yet filed the paperwork.

At least one general election contest will take place for judicial candidates. Incumbent Republican judge Judith Benckart has filed her declaration to seek re-election to her Division 8 circuit court seat. Democrat Jeff Kehr has filed his declaration of candidacy for the Democratic Party’s nomination to that seat.

Benckart was appointed to the bench in late 2018 by the governor, to replace the retiring Kenneth Todd. Kehr was one of the 10 people who applied for that appointment. Earlier in 2018, Kehr contested the May primary for the circuit court’s Division 6 with Catherine Stafford. It was Stafford who prevailed in the primary and went on to be elected  judge.

Another candidate in the 2018 Democratic Party primary for a judge’s seat nomination is also running this year. In 2018, Geoff Bradley ran in a three-way primary for the Division 9 seat, a race won by Darcie Fawcett, who was elected judge that fall. This time around, Bradley is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for the Division 1 seat. The incumbent for that seat, Elizabeth Cure, is retiring.

Incumbent for the Division 1Division 2 seat on the circuit court, Valeri Haughton, has filed her declaration of candidacy. That means all the seats up for election in the local judiciary have candidates who have filed.

The same goes for General Assembly candidates representing the Monroe County area. For the District 40 state senate seat, Democrat John Zody (D) has declared his candidacy—after Mark Stoops announced his retirement. The incumbent Republican for the District 44 seat in the state senate, Eric Koch, has filed. Incumbent Republicans for area state house seats have also filed their declarations: Bob Heaton (District 46), Peggy Mayfield (District 60), Jeff Ellington (District 62), and Chris May (District 65).

Two seats are up for election on Monroe County’s board of county commissioners. Neither of the two incumbents—Julie Thomas and Penny Githens—have yet filed declarations. [Updated Jan. 18, 2019 at 5:05 p.m: Githens told The Square Beacon she filed late in the afternoon on Friday, likely after the daily update from election staff.]

Besides seats on the county council and the board of county commissioners, four other countywide elected positions are up for election this year: treasurer, auditor, coroner and surveyor. For those positions, only the incumbent surveyor, Democrat Trohn Enright-Randolph, has filed a declaration of candidacy.

The Square Beacon updates new announcements or filings for local candidates on a separate page: 2020 Monroe County Indiana Primaries.  Readers who’d like to receive a daily email around 4 p.m. with an attached spreadsheet of the day’s candidate filings can sign up for the  list at the Election Central building at 7th and Madison streets. An additional resource for candidate filings is Indiana’s Secretary of State’s listing for all candidates statewide.