Ballots Set for May Primary

Candidate filing for the May primary has come to an end with several office-holders not seeking reelection. Starke County Commissioner Kathy Norem, Pulaski County Commissioners Kenny Becker and Jerry Locke, and Winamac Clerk-Treasurer Melanie Berger are just some of the names that aren’t on the 2020 ballot.

In Starke County, Republican Mark Gourley and Democrat Brad Hazelton are looking to succeed Norem as District 1 commissioner. Commissioner Charlie Chesak is now unopposed in District 3. His expected General Election challenger, Democrat August Eckert, has withdrawn from the race, according to the Starke County Clerk’s Office.

The Starke County Council race is contested on both the Democrat and Republican tickets. The candidates are Republicans Don Binkley, Sam Byer, Todd Leinbach, and incumbent Kay Gudeman, and Democrats Lonnie Boley, Chuck Estok, Michael Risner, Thomas Schouten, and Karl Swihart. The top three winners from each party will advance to November’s General Election.

The only other contested Starke County race is for county treasurer. Incumbent Kay Chaffins faces a Democratic primary challenge from Monica Miller. The nominee will face the winner of the Republican primary race between Tom Decola and Lauri Venckus. The treasurer’s race nearly had a fifth candidate, Republican Tom Brettin, but the Clerk’s Office says he didn’t return his candidate paperwork by Friday’s deadline.

In Pulaski County, the race to replace Kenny Becker as District 2 commissioner consists of three Republicans: Mervin Lemeron, Charles “Chuck” Mellon Jr., and Robert Schultz. For the District 1 seat currently held by Jerry Locke, Maurice Loehmer and Terry Young are seeking the Republican Party’s nomination, with the winner facing Democrat Doug Denton in November.

Eight candidates are vying for the three at-large county council seats, including Republicans Matthew Garbison, James Gould, Adam Loehmer, John Masterson, Steve Nellans, Tim Overmyer, and incumbent Ken Boswell. The three winners in the primary will face Democrat Renee Calabrese in November. One notable absence is Jay Sullivan, who is not seeking reelection, after having served for many years as council president.

Meanwhile, Pulaski County Auditor Laura Wheeler faces a Republican Party primary challenge from Tim Hoffa Jr.

In Winamac, Republican Kendra Craft is the only candidate filed to succeed Melanie Berger as clerk-treasurer. Republicans Judy Heater, Tom Murray, and Jim Watkins are seeking reelection to the town council. They’re joined by Republicans Terry Pratt and Dan Vanaman, as well as Democrat Larry Weaver.

Medaryville Town Council members Ray Saltsman and Suzanna J. Wilcoxon are facing a Republican Party primary challenge from Art Conley and Joe Jackson Jr. The May primary will narrow that list down to three, with the winners joined by incumbent Democrat in November’s General Election. Republican Clerk-Treasurer Stacy Conley is unopposed.

A complete list of candidates, including those for state and federal offices, can be found on the Indiana Secretary of State’s website