Kosciusko County is beginning the initial steps toward looking at whether to adapt to voting centers at some point in the future.
Numerous other counties in Indiana have made the switch or are looking at changing. Vote centers are growing in popularity in the state because of the convenience the system affords voters who can cast ballots at any polling place in the county. The option was made available by state law in 2011.
The process in Kosciusko County is still in the very early stages of consideration. Ultimately, the county will need to develop a plan, gauge public support and have it approved by the county commissioners, county council and the county election board.
County Clerk Ann Torpy confirmed on Election night Tuesday that the county is looking at the idea.
On Tuesday night, she’ll be meeting with Democratic Party activists at their monthly meeting at Mad Anthony’s on Center Street in Warsaw.
To learn more about vote centers, the Indiana Secretary of State has a great primer you can find here.
* * *
ELECTION FALLOUT — Tuesday’s strong victory by Mayor Joe Thallemer over city councilman Ron Shoemaker was one that won’t soon be forgotten.
Aside from the outcome, the quick takedown of the Warsaw Community Facebook page on Tuesday night was icing on the cake for many folks who saw the page as nothing more than a below-the-belt campaign tool used to attack Thallemer (and a few shots directed at me). The fact that the Facebook page, which was run in part by Chad Zartman and a few other anonymous administrators, came down so quickly was “the culmination of their cowardice,” one election observer told me (UPDATE: the page resurfaced Saturday morning, May 11. My advice: ignore it).
Clearly, some people thought Shoemaker had a chance to make a serious run against Thallemer. But Shoemaker’s decision to let Warsaw Community and Zartman take center stage and go unchecked by Shoemaker himself was probably a huge mistake. Online claims that Thallemer was a racist, a hacker, was running to boost his pension and somehow forced law enforcement to seize Zartman’s cell phones likely led some voters to see the race as more of a contest between Zartman and Thallemer.
Here are a few election notes:
- Kosciusko County County Democratic Chair Brian Smith said he will seek to slate a candidate to run against Mayor Thallemer in the fall election. He said issues with the police department and the recent sewer rate hikes deserve further debate. He also said he knows some Democratic voters crossed over and backed Thallemer over concerns with Shoemaker’s more conservative approach.
- Warsaw conservative Chris Plack has been openly hinting (that’s an understatement!) that he will run for office in the fall election as an independent. He said Friday, he will make a decision next week. He has three choices: Run for mayor, the District 2 city council seat or one of the two at-large city council seats. Republican Josh Finch is the nominee for the District 2, which was vacated by Shoemaker when he chose to run for mayor. He would face Incumbent Republicans Cindy Dobbins and Jack Wilhite if he runs for at-large.
- While the three towns in Kosciusko County (Warsaw, Syracuse and Winona Lake) had a total 15 percent turnout, that was certainly not across the board. Winona Lake, which had just one competitive race, saw only 7 percent of its registered voters cast votes. Syracuse had 16 percent while Warsaw saw a 21-percent turnout.
- Thallemer won almost every precinct. He did well in some of the more affluent areas, including his neighborhood along Winona Lake, where the race track was likely an issue. Some of the precincts where Thallemer had his strongest results saw above-average turnout.
- I received predictions from more than a dozen folks in and around Warsaw on the mayoral race. One person predicted it to be toss-up while the rest thought Thallemer would win. Only one person, former Wayne Township Trustee candidate Shari Benyousky, correctly predicted the margin of victory would be 63-37.
* * *
TITUS REMEMBERED — U.S. Rep. Jim Banks remembered Winona Lake Fire Chief Mitch Titus on the House Floor Thursday. Titus died Sunday and was buried Thursday. You can find the video clip here.
* * *
Dan Spalding covers city government and politics for InkFreeNews.
He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.