Election season heats up

Less than three weeks have passed since the last election, but candidates are already lining up and launching campaigns for municipal offices you’ll vote on next year.

After a lackluster countywide election with few local races, 16 Republicans in Greenwood and Franklin already plan to run for city positions, and contested races are shaping up.

In 2015, residents who live in Johnson County’s cities and towns will vote on their leaders, including mayors and city court judges in Greenwood and Franklin, a clerk in Greenwood, clerk-treasurers in the other seven communities, and city and town council members in all eight cities and towns.

Residents who live in unincorporated areas won’t vote next year.

Republicans are starting their campaigns early because candidates expect they may end up in contested races. The primary election is less than six months away, and candidates want to get their names out and meet people now. Most community festivals, parades and the Johnson County fair don’t occur until after the primary, so the work has to begin in winter.

No Democrat has announced an intention to run yet, but a few people are considering seeking office. Party officials want to see Democratic challengers for most positions on the ballot, Johnson County Democratic Party chairman Bob Kramer said. He doesn’t expect any Democrats to face off in the primary, so candidates likely don’t need to start campaigning as early since they wouldn’t match up against Republicans until fall, he said.

Candidates can’t file for office until January, but candidates already have said they plan to run for office. Former Franklin school board member John Wales and former Franklin City Council member Ted Murphy both plan to run for the District 3 city council seat, which will be an open position next year, since current council member Rob Henderson has moved into a different part of the city and is no longer eligible.

“It’s good for people out there to know who is there as early as possible,” Wales said. “I’ll do the same as I did in school board runs and get out and meet people.”

Murphy, who was unseated four years ago by Henderson, also wants to let people know he’s running again as soon as possible.

“It’s early, but it gives people a chance to let them learn more about who is running. John’s a good man, and I’m sorry we’re both in the same district,” Murphy said.

In Greenwood, incumbent city clerk Jeannine Myers and Nick Schwab, a Greenwood school board member, both plan to run for the clerk’s seat. Former Greenwood City Council member Ron Deer plans to run for an at-large seat on the council again, expecting to run against incumbents who likely will seek another term.

Incumbents also were making sure to get their name out as early as possible, since some expect to face competition. Elected officials still need to make their case early and often to be elected to another term, Franklin City Council member Steve Barnett said.

“I don’t feel like I’m entitled to be re-elected. I’m going to get out there and earn it,” Barnett said.

Voters also can expect some changes for next year’s municipal elections.

City council districts in both Greenwood and Franklin have shifted since 2011, so you may be voting for a different representative this time around. For example, most residents who live south of Jefferson Street in Franklin are now part of District 4, instead of being split between three council districts. District lines in Greenwood west of U.S. 31 also have changed, so you might not be voting for the same person as in 2011.

The county will be using vote centers for the first time in a municipal election. Centers located outside city and town limits that have been used in past elections — such as the Amity fire station, Rocklane Christian Church and Mount Pleasant Christian Church — might not be open since nearby residents won’t be voting, Johnson County Clerk Sue Anne Misiniec said.

The county also could consider new sites in Greenwood or Franklin, she said.

On the ballot

Here’s what will be on the ballot for city and town elections in 2015. If you live in the unincorporated parts of the county, you won’t vote next year.

Greenwood

Mayor

Clerk

City court judge

City council — six district seats and three at-large seats

Franklin

Mayor

Clerk

City court judge

City council — four district seats and three at-large seats

Bargersville

Clerk-treasurer

Town council — three at-large seats

Edinburgh

Clerk-treasurer

Town council — three at-large seats

New Whiteland

Clerk-treasurer

Town council — three wards

Prince’s Lakes

Clerk-treasurer

Town council — five at-large seats

Trafalgar

Clerk-treasurer

Town council — five at-large seats

Whiteland

Clerk-treasurer

Town council — three wards and two at-large seats