Leaders meet to decide 2 seats

One day after the election, Republican Party leaders met to select two people to fill local elected officials’ seats.

An open seat on the Johnson County Council drew nine applicants.

Greenwood City Council member-elect David Lekse, who ran for the District 6 seat unopposed and will begin his four-year term in January, was unanimously appointed to finish the term for former council member Thom Hord, who resigned last month.

County council member Loren Snyder also resigned because he moved to Indianapolis, leaving his at-large seat vacant with 13 months left in his term.

Ninety of the 135 county precinct committee members were present to appoint a candidate to Snyder’s seat. After two hours, John Mallers was appointed to the county council through December 2016, said Sandi Huddleston, chairwoman of the Johnson County Republican Party.

“It was a very interesting and exhausting night,” Mallers said. “I’m just grateful for this opportunity. My family and I are proud to call Johnson County home, and this is an opportunity to give back to the people of this county.”

Mallers said he put his name in for the at-large seat because he works with county government as an accountant, and it seemed like a good fit.

Mallers was one of nine who filed to be appointed to the seat. The others were Jim Higdon, John Young, Greg Moore, Bill Cruser, Tim Deppy, JT Doane, Greg Hill and James Kaylor.

Precinct committee members voted five times, but the first four votes failed to produce a majority winner. After each vote, the lowest vote getter was dropped. Two members pulled their names out of the running.

The final vote was between Mallers and Moore, and Mallers won 44-40, with two votes going to candidates who weren’t on the final ballot, Huddleston said. Four precinct committee members also had to leave before the selection was made.

Mallers will join the seven-member county council, which approves the county’s budget and also approves new taxes, such as the innkeeper’s tax that was recently approved. County council members serve four-year terms and make $7,950 a year.

If Mallers wants to serve a four-year term in the at-large seat after the current term ends next year, he will have to run in next year’s countywide elections, Huddleston said.

Lekse, an attorney, will now join the Greenwood City Council a couple of months before the term he was elected to actually begins.

Lekse defeated Hord in the primary election and was unopposed in Tuesday’s election and again on Wednesday night when precinct committee members met to appoint Hord’s replacement. Hord resigned last month when he and his family made plans to move to Florida by the beginning of November.

Lekse was the only person to file to fill the seat. Six of seven precinct committee members were at the caucus and selected Lekse. He was sworn in just after 7 p.m. and then arrived for the last half-hour of the city council meeting.

“It was exciting hearing my name on the roll call for the first time,” Lekse said. “A few council members reached out and welcomed me and informed me of the topics on tonight’s agenda, so I wasn’t flying totally blind. So I was somewhat ready, but it was all such a rush. I was sworn in and then came here.”

The Greenwood City Council approves the city budget, sets city rules, approves rezoning requests and sets the plan for long-term development. Council members serve four-year terms and earn a salary of $12,000 a year.

Lekse said he wants to continue improvements to Old Town Greenwood, such as upgrades to 22 façades, as well as promote development to make the downtown a destination for shopping and dining.

David Lekse

Appointed to: Greenwood City Council

Age: 46

Occupation: Attorney

Family: Wife, Denise, sons, Zach and Matt.

John Mallers

Appointed to: Johnson County Council

Age: 50

Occupation: Accountant

Resides: Greenwood

Family: Wife, Elizabeth, son, Thomas.

Corey Elliot is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at celliot@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2719.