As the clock struck 8 a.m. Wednesday, Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett became the first candidate to file to be on the ballot in this year’s municipal primary elections.
There are 36 local offices with 52 seats on the ballot this election cycle, though there is a chance not all of them will be contested races. Offices in all of the county’s cities and towns are up for grabs, with several incumbents and newcomers expected.
The primary election will take place on May 2. For voters in many communities, this will the first election since local officials completed their decennial redistricting processes. Voters in many areas will be casting ballots for candidates under new city and town council districts.
When the Johnson County Voter Registration office in the basement of the courthouse opened its doors Wednesday morning, six people were waiting in line to file their candidacy paperwork. As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, 10 candidates had dropped off their forms — all Republicans, according to the Johnson County Clerk’s Office.
Of the 10 who filed, only one wasn’t seeking a Franklin or Greenwood office. New Whiteland Clerk-Treasurer Angela DeVoss is seeking her first full-term as clerk-treasurer after being selected to fill the position during a caucus last July.
The turnout Wednesday morning was about what county clerk Trena McLaughlin expected. More filings will slowly come in as time goes on, though McLaughlin does not expect this year’s election to be as busy as the 2022 midterms, she said.
“I know that the Greenwood mayor’s race is supposed to be contested, but other than that, I haven’t been told that we’re going to have a lot of contested races,” McLaughlin said.
The first candidate to file Wednesday was Barnett, who is running for his second full-term in office as Franklin’s mayor. He first won a caucus in late January 2017 to replace former mayor Joe McGuinness. In 2019, he was elected by Franklin voters to continue as mayor.
While Barnett has been among the first to file before, this is the first time he was at the top of the line, he said.
“I’ve always been a racer, and I believe in trying to get there first,” Barnett said.
Barnett is looking forward to serving the citizens of Franklin again if he’s reelected. He wants to continue to lead Franklin on its “journey of excellence” that has taken place over the last few years, he said.
So far, Barnett is unopposed in the mayoral race, but candidates have about four more weeks to file. He was previously unopposed in his 2019 election.
For the city council, District 1 incumbent Josh Prine is seeking his first full term in office since being selected in a November 2021 caucus. He wants to continue what the city council has already started for “steady” growth of the city, he said.
Prine was not the only person to file for city council Wednesday, as newcomer Todd Shuck filed to fill one of the council’s two at-large seats. A Franklin College graduate and the owner of several businesses in the city, he wants to get involved on a larger scale, he said.
District 2 incumbent Anne McGuiness also filed for reelection on Wednesday.
After Barnett filed, Greenwood city council members Linda Gibson and Ron Bates were the next two in line. Gibson is seeking reelection to her District 1 seat, and Bates is seeking reelection to his District 4 seat. Both were among the first to file in 2019 as well.
Gibson is running for reelection because she wants to continue to listen and help constituents when she can. It’s important to help them through government processes, she said.
Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers was also among the first to file Wednesday as he seeks reelection for a fourth term. Myers has been mayor since 2011, and says the city has had positive growth since he first took office — something he wants to continue.
Along with increasing assessed value, the city also has many new construction projects underway. Myers wants to see many of these projects come to fruition, especially The Madison, he said.
“It’s kind of my legacy project,” he said. “I’m seeing downtown get revitalized, we just want to keep the growth.”
Myers will likely face a challenge from former Center Grove school board president Joe Hubbard, who announced his intent to run for mayor last year.
Hubbard has not yet filed to be on the ballot but he already has a campaign website up, saying he’ll provide “common sense conservative leadership.” He also plans to fight for the people of Greenwood, not large corporations, his website says.
His website also says he plans to focus on public safety and wants to make it a “priority.” He also alleges current city leadership has left police and fire departments underfunded and understaffed, claims Myers has previously denied.
Other Greenwood officials who filed for reelection Wednesday were incumbent city clerk Jeannine Myers and incumbent District 3 council member Michael Williams.
Other key tidbits
Potential candidates have until noon on Feb. 3 to file for office. Those who are interested in running for municipal office must file at the Johnson County Clerk’s Office located in the Johnson County Courthouse, 5 E. Jefferson St., Franklin.
Once the filing period ends, county officials will have about two months to prepare for the primary, during which voters will select candidates from each party to run in the general election. Since a majority of voters in Johnson County tend to cast Republican ballots, many races are often decided during the primary.
Voters who want to cast a ballot in this year’s election must be registered to vote by April 3.
Johnson County will continue to use vote centers this year, allowing local voters to cast their ballots at any of a handful of locations throughout the county. Early voting will also be an option at some locations in the month leading up to Election Day, and absentee ballots will be available for those who are eligible under state law.
The exact times for early voting have not yet been approved by the county’s Election Board. Typically, early voting begins 30 days out from an election, however, if there are not a lot of contested races, the board has the authority to lower the number of days, McLaughlin said.
“When we have poll workers that are just working and there’s no one coming out to vote, that’s a cost to the taxpayers and we don’t want that,” she said.
Here’s a look at candidates who filed for office Wednesday:
- Steve Barnett, Republican, Franklin Mayor
- Ronald “Ron” Bates, Republican, Greenwood City Council District 4
- Angela K. DeVoss, Republican, New Whiteland Clerk-Treasurer
- Linda S. Gibson, Republican, Greenwood City Council District 1
- Anne McGuinness, Republican, Franklin City Council District 2
- Jeannine Myers, Republican, Greenwood City Clerk
- Mark W. Myers, Republican, Greenwood Mayor
- Josh Prine, Republican, Franklin City Council District 1
- Todd A. Shuck, Republican, Franklin City Council At-large
- Michael Williams, Republican, Greenwood City Council District 3
Source: Johnson County Clerk’s Office
OPEN OFFICES FOR 2023
Here’s a look at what Johnson County offices are up for election this year:
Town Council At-Large — Three seats
Town Council At-Large — Three seats
City Council Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 — One seat for each district
City Council At-Large — Two seats
City Council Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 — One seat for each district
City Council At-Large — Three seats
Town Council Wards 1, 3 and 4 — One seat for each ward
Town Council At-Large — Five seats
Town Council At-Large — Five seats
Town Council Wards 1, 2 and 3 — One seat for each ward
Town Council At-Large — Two seats