Nine Republicans want a shot at five seats available on the Trafalgar Town Council.
Incumbents Jeff Eisenmenger, Jessica Jones, Jason Ramey and Kyle Siegfred are seeking reelection to the council overseeing the small town of Trafalgar. They are facing challengers Jackie Bryant, Ashley Chaney, David Moore, Rick Morgan and Mike Peters for the five seats available on the board. One of the five seats is open without an incumbent running because current member Jerry Rafferty is not seeking reelection.
Peters had previously wanted to drop out of the race earlier this month, but he changed his mind and decided to continue, he told the Daily Journal on April 20. The date for a candidate to withdraw from the primary was in February, so Peters would have still appeared on Republican voters’ ballots in Trafalgar anyway. Voters can cast their ballots in the primary between now and May 2, which is Election Day.
Primary voters in Trafalgar can pick up to five candidates to move on to the November general election for the town council. No Democrat has filed to run for the Trafalgar Town Council, but there will be time for a candidate to be slated for the general election this summer.
About the job
What: Trafalgar Town Council, at-large
Term: Four years
Pay: $3,600 a year; $4,000 for council president (2023)
Duties: Set annual spending for the town, adopt local rules and ordinances, appoint members to various town boards
Candidates actively running for the council have differing visions on governing Trafalgar, and bettering it for the future. But they all share a common goal of wanting to do right by the small town’s citizens, they said.
Morgan did not respond to multiple interview requests from the Daily Journal. Moore filled out a biography sheet provided to him, but declined an interview and did not answer questions sent to him via email.
Bryant is a newcomer to running for an elected office. He said he felt the need to run because he thinks current council members have dragged their feet in fixing certain problems in town.
He specifically cited various drainage problems in town, including one near the park, which is causing some yards and streets around it to flood. Bryant said the town has taken too long to fix that.
“You don’t see much going on that needs to be going on,” Bryant said. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a person that really complains. But I’ve lived here for 40 years … They just don’t get things done. That’s one thing that truly aggravates me about the council.”
The town has been working to fix the drainage issue near the park and received quotes to fix it. It is now a matter of getting the money needed to pay for the project, and other infrastructure problems throughout town.
Other top priorities of Bryant’s include promoting growth and bringing more jobs to the area. He also wants to see the town get a small grocery store. Bryant sat on the town planning commission years ago, so he has experience with town planning and growth, he said.
“The town, it’s got to grow. If it don’t, it’s going to die. That’s plain and simple,” Bryant said.
Chaney is also a first-time candidate. She grew up in the area, and moved back with her family a few years ago. She’s running because she believes she needs to do her part if she wants to see a change in town.
One of Chaney’s top priorities would be to promote unity in the town and among council members. She said she feels like there is a divide among the older and younger generations in town who want change and don’t want change, or want the town to operate certain ways. That split is also prevalent among council members who have engaged in political disputes with each other in the last year.
“There are people who are very adamant about things being one way or the other. I would just like to see more unity and the community coming together,” Chaney said.
If elected, Chaney would be open-minded to all citizens of Trafalgar. She thinks transparency from the council is important, she said.
“We knowingly go into this knowing every little thing we do is public record, and we are going into this role wanting to represent the town,” Chaney said.
On the town’s growth over the years, Chaney said the town should embrace change as it grows with new subdivisions and businesses coming in.
“Trafalgar has such a great reputation, or not even just Trafalgar but Johnson County has such a great reputation for being a great community to live, work and raise your family,” Chaney said. “So, the way we go about change is important because don’t need a Walmart on every corner or a Starbucks on every corner, but I think change is necessary and controlled growth is important.”
Eisenmenger is the senior member of the Trafalgar Town Council, and he is asking voters to consider him for a fourth term.
Eisenmenger said he considers himself the only “true conservative Republican” sitting on the council, and he is running again to continue to look out for the citizens and businesses of Trafalgar.
With that, he said he is against tax increases, and he is for lowering water and sewer rates in town. Eisenmenger also said he is pro-police — even though he was hesitant last year in increasing Trafalgar police pay by 10% — and he is against unnecessary spending.
“I believe in managing the people’s tax money just like my personal finances,” Eisenmenger said.
One of his goals is to continue to promote growth in the town, and look out for residents’ best interests. He believes Trafalgar has managed its growth well over the years and has improved oversight of problems. He is also interested in bringing a small grocery store to town.
Eisenmenger was at the center of controversy late last year when other council members called him a “hypocrite” for certain business practices they said violated town codes. Eisenmenger received two zoning violation letters from the town last year alleging he had people living in commercially-zoned buildings.
One of those violations was thrown out because the town Board of Zoning Appeals found a lack of evidence. The other has not been addressed again since December, but Eisenmenger has admitted he rents the commercial space in alleged violation — 100 W. Pearl St. — out to a woman, Betty Davis.
Since those issues came to light, Eisenmenger has stood by claims that all the allegations against him are politically motivated to get him out of office. He has called Jones, Ramey and Siegfred “ring leaders” on the council.
“What I have to say to voters is, there were a lot of allegations against me, and none of them were followed through,” Eisenmenger said. “None of them were continued. None of them went forward. All of them are gone. All of those were rooted in jealousy and politically driven.”
Eisenmenger has since been an advocate for the town changing its zoning code to allow mixed-use developments or planned unit developments.
Jones, who is the current council president, is seeking a second term on the council to continue her efforts to bring transparency and “positive changes” to the town’s processes.
One of her goals, if reelected, is to continue reviewing and updating town ordinances to make the town more efficient. Many ordinances are outdated or contradict each other, making them hard to enforce, she said. Another goal of hers is to build more community engagement with the town’s parks board. She also wants to look into how to apply for more grants to improve quality of life, such as parks grants or grants to revitalize Trafalgar’s downtown area.
“The world and our community are constantly evolving, and what may have worked in the past may no longer be the best approach in today’s context,” Jones said. “We need to have solutions in place before the problems occur. We need to be more proactive … we’ve been mostly reactive.”
Another priority is better retaining town employees. Trafalgar has struggled with turnover with both the town office and the police department in recent years. Jones said she wants to look at how the town can up its benefits to keep its workers.
With the town’s growth, Jones said Trafalgar has not done the best job over the years with oversight and managing its growth so it does not negatively affect residents. She wants the town to remedy its zoning law problems, infrastructure, fees, expectations and rules before it grows more.
“It’s negligent to say Trafalgar should continue growth without the issues we see now having solutions,” Jones said.
Jones added she would like to find a way for the town to hire a town manager, which could help manage daily operations and solve problems faster.
Moore is a former town council member, who lost his last reelection bid in the 2019 primary. He has lived in Trafalgar for over 20 years, according to the Daily Journal candidate biography sheet he submitted.
In January 2019, Moore was arrested after he got into a physical fight with Eisenmenger following a town council meeting. The two started arguing during the public meeting about matters concerning the town’s budget, such as over-spending and employee benefits. Moore suggested Eisenmenger should not have voted on a matter due to a conflict of interest. Eisenmenger responded with a personal comment about Moore’s recent hospitalization at the time.
The meeting ended cordially, according to the audio recording. The physical altercation took place in the hallway afterward, while some members of the council and police officers were still inside the town hall. Moore was arrested later that evening in his home.
Moore was formally charged in July 2019 with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. The charges were later dismissed on March 12, 2020.
Moore did not respond to further questions about why he is running for office again or address issues he had with the council in the past.
Ramey is seeking a third term on the Trafalgar Town Council to finish improvements to the town that started when he first took office, he said.
His No. 1 priority is working on retaining quality employees for the town. With his background in public safety, Ramey currently sits on a committee with Trafalgar Police Chief Charles Roberts to come up with solutions to recruit and retain police officers, specifically.
Another priority for Ramey is for the town to get a better grasp on approving new developments, and fixing other problems caused by approved new developments. Various housing developments, and the town park, have been alleged causes of infrastructure and drainage problems throughout town. Ramey said he believes these issues happened because of a lack of oversight by previous councils.
“We need to get a grasp on not only new development so that we’re doing things properly with drainage and permitting and all those things … but also try to catch up on any things that have been overlooked or neglected in current developments,” Ramey said.
Because of these ongoing issues, Ramey said he does not think the town has handled its growth well. He’s not pushing for more growth but recognizes it is bound to happen as the county as a whole grows. Going forward, he wants Trafalgar to manage it better.
Ramey said letting issues go “because it’s the way we’ve always done it” is one of the biggest challenges the town has to overcome. That is in reference to drainage problems, and people in town not following ordinances, such as zoning codes.
He is for updating the town zoning code, including adding a mixed-use, but he wants rules to be in place to prevent people from doing whatever they want with a property, he said.
Ramey also wants to advocate for Trafalgar to hire a town manager. The council members have day jobs and cannot always be around to handle day-to-day operations and problems. A town manager could help remedy many of the town’s problems, he said.
“What we start to find is other elected officials get stretched too far … a lot of time they’re just trying to help, but at the end of the day we are there to support and approve the budgets and give employees what they need,” Ramey said. “We’re not really there to supervise day-to-day. There needs to be someone there who is overseeing all of these things coming in because its too much for the limited employees we already have.”
Siegfred is asking voters to consider him for a second term on the council. He decided to run again because he wants to have a positive influence on the community, and he thinks the next several years will be critical for Trafalgar’s growth.
His priorities include transparency to the public from the council, helping the town grow and seeing through the completion of the $7 million wastewater treatment plant
construction. He also wants the council to develop a better relationship with the Trafalgar Fire Department, which is governed by a fire district board, not the town council.
Like several other incumbents, Siegfred thinks one of the biggest issues Trafalgar is facing is employee recruitment and retention.
Siegfred also recognized growth and handling growth is an issue Trafalgar faces, he said. He wants to find ways to approach growth while keeping Trafalgar’s small-town values. People want to live in Trafalgar, and he wants the town to welcome them.
“I don’t think that there is much we can do to stop the growth. The growth around Indianapolis is coming south. Either, we find ways to work with new businesses and developments or they will find ways to move around us,” Siegfred said.
Hiring a town manager is also a priority for Siegfred. A town manager could help manage growth, and help the town with its planning zoning, which it has struggled with in the past, said Siegfred, current president of the town planning commission.
With updating the town zoning code, Siegfred also is in favor of adding mixed-use zoning. He does not think those currently in violation of zoning codes should be grandfathered in as mixed-use zoning, as has been suggested by some board and council members, including Eisenmenger.
Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that Mike Peters decided to continue to run for the Trafalgar Town Council after previously saying he wanted to drop out.
The Bryant File
Name: Jackie D. Bryant
Years lived in Trafalgar: 40
Educational background: Adair County High School in Columbia, Kentucky
Memberships: Edinburgh Separate Baptist Church; former member of Trafalgar Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals
Political experience: First-time candidate
The Chaney File
Name: Ashley Chaney
Years lived in Trafalgar: 8.5
Family: Husband Kevin; four children
Occupation: Branch office administrator at Edward Jones
Educational background: Indian Creek High School; Ivy Tech Community College
Memberships: Victory Christian Church, NHJ Educational Foundation, National Notary Association
Political experience: First-time candidate
The Eisenmenger File
Name: Jeffrey O. Eisenmenger
Years lived in Trafalgar: 16
Family: Unmarried, no children
Occupation: Realtor, owner of Small Town Pizza and Sub Co.
Educational background: Indian Creek High School; Indiana University
Political experience: Trafalgar Town Council member since 2010
The Jones File
Name: Jessica M. Jones
Years lived in Trafalgar: 7
Family: Husband Jesse; two children
Occupation: Account manager of quality and risk at OptumCare
Educational background: Indian Creek High School; Franklin Community High School; received GED in 2007; Ivy Tech Community College; Harrison College; Southern New Hampshire University; Western Governors University
Memberships: National Patient Advocacy Foundation, Leadership Johnson County, Social Interventions Research and Evaluation Network, Indian Creek Bantam Football Board, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
Political experience: Trafalgar Town Council member since 2020
The Moore File
Name: David R. Moore
Years lived in Trafalgar: 20
Family: Not married; two adult children
Occupation: Works at Casey’s in Trafalgar
Educational background: Arsenal Tech High School, Indianapolis
Political experience: Former Trafalgar Town Council member
The Ramey File
Name: Jason A. Ramey
Years lived in Trafalgar: 18
Family: Wife Rachel; three children
Occupation: Captain at Bargersville Community Fire Department
Educational background: Indian Creek High School; fire and EMS certifications
Memberships: Trafalgar Board of Police Commissioners, 2013-2016
Political experience: Trafalgar Town Council member since 2016
The Siegfred File
Name: Kyle Siegfred
Years lived in Trafalgar: 11
Family: Wife Crystal; one son
Occupation: Family case manager for the Indiana Department of Child Services
Educational background: Wabash High School; Cincinnati Christian University
Memberships: Mitchell Masonic Lodge, Trafalgar Planning Commission
Political experience: Trafalgar Town Council member since 2020