White River Township trustee wins fourth term

White River Township voters chose a familiar candidate to represent them in the township trustee office.

Republican Mark Messick, who has served as township trustee since 2010, was re-elected in Tuesday’s general election. Messick took 68% of the votes, overtaking Democrat Susanne Fortenberry, who received 32%.

The trustee serves as the executive of township government, managing day-to-day operations, administering poor relief, maintaining cemeteries, controlling weeds, among other responsibilities.

Messick, a former investment executive and small business owner, ran for re-election because he enjoys the work that he does as township trustee.

“Why do I want to run again? It’s pretty simple. I want to take care of the people in White River Township,” he said during an interview in October.

Throughout his 12 years as trustee, Messick pointed to his judicious approach to the office’s budget. He worked hard to make the best use of the taxpayers’ money, not taxing township residents the full amount that Indiana allowed while still providing funds for people who need help.

“There are people, at no fault of their own, can’t pay their rent, can’t pay their utilities and are looking to put food on their table. Benjamin Franklin once said, and I’m paraphrasing, ‘Government should be about taking care of those people who can’t take care of themselves.’” I love that,” Messick said in October.

Messick understood that the township trustee is often a misunderstood office, and would like to make the work that it does for the community more visible.

“Hopefully, they’ve recognized what we’ve done over the years. We do it behind the scenes, and we do it with great integrity. We do it by serving the community and taxpayers in the best way we can,” he said in October.

A number of township trustees ran uncontested in this year’s election. Those candidates, all Republicans, include Ray B. Walton of Blue River Township; Neil H. Trisler of Clark Township; Lydia J. Wales of Franklin-Union-Needham Township; Beth A. Baird of Hensley Township; and C. William Hart of Pleasant Township.

Jonetta Knight of Nineveh Township also ran uncontested after unseating current trustee Janet Renner in the primary election in May. She told the Daily Journal in March that if elected, she wanted to make sure people always have the ability to talk to her if they have concerns or questions.

Her goals included creating a physical trustee’s office to keep items people may need, such as diapers and food. She also wants to hire assistants to keep the office open as many hours as possible.