Debbie Blank The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune
---- — BROOKVILLE – Before primary ballots were cast May 6, the hottest Franklin County race seemed to be the one for sheriff with three Republicans in the running. As precinct totals were announced at the courthouse in the early evening hours, however, it became clear that incumbent Kenneth Murphy, Brookville, at 62.5 percent, scored a decisive victory over Barry Bischoff, Connersville, at 19.4 percent and John Roberts Jr., Brookville, at 18.1 percent.
“I’m pleased with the outcome,” Murphy said Wednesday as he was picking up campaign signs. “The public sees what goes on behind the scenes and they want a sheriff who’s honest, has integrity and is transparent. I’m humbled and flattered they think that much of me.”
There were just four other countywide contested races. The closest one was the only Democratic choice, Chester Ball, Cedar Grove, or Dale Maxie, Bath, for District 1 commissioner. Maxie was the winner with a 52-48 percent margin. He arrived at the courthouse “pretty confident,” explaining, “The eight years I was sheriff I made a lot of friends.”
The candidate said he decided to run after observing six dump trucks containing hot mix for paving when frost was on the ground a few years ago. “They wasted $40,000” because Maxie suspected it was too cold to apply the material.
He will campaign against Eric Roberts, Brookville, who bested incumbent Republican commissioner Scott McDonough, Cedar Grove, 52.7 percent to 47.3 percent.
The winner’s mood went from nervous to relieved. Roberts, who served in that position from 2007-10, said, “I guess they wanted me back.” He added, “I want to work for the people and do everything that’s right for the county .... The biggest issue is the budget crisis and finding the way to correct that.”
Of the neck-and-neck race for most of the night, McDonough said, “It surprises me how fast people forget all the chaos that took place under the Roberts-Vonder Meulen (commissioners’) reign.” He observed, “There have been a lot of challenges this county has faced over the last four years. It’s been an honor to work with (Tom) Wilson and (Tom) Linkel ... the work is not done.”
With 67.4 percent of the votes, incumbent Republican District 2 commissioner Tom Linkel, Batesville, had an easy time getting past M.P. Allen, Metamora. The primary win after his first term left Linkel “very excited.” When asked about issues, he sighed, “Potholes, potholes and potholes! Roads are the big topic. Everybody worries, ‘Do we have enough money to keep the bridges open for the school buses?’ We’re going to be all right.” He explained only one bridge, Pipe Creek, is closed now and vehicles have other access.
Linkel will square off against Democrat Louis Fasbinder, Brookville, for the seat Nov. 4.
For the District 4 council seat, incumbent Republican Aaron Leffingwell, Brookville, gained 56.2 percent of the votes. He defeated Curtis Ward, Brookville, at 33.6 percent and Jimmy Webb, Brookville, at 10.2 percent.
The next day, Leffingwell said, “I was pleasantly surprised by my win in the primary. It was a tough decision for me to sign up again. It has been a difficult year on council and with my other community involvements, it all takes a lot of time away from my family. But apparently, the voters of this county somewhat agree with the hard work Daryl Kramer and I have done on balancing the county budget and that there is still more work to be done.”
Leffingwell will be challenged by Democrat Carroll Lanning, Brookville, who has served on the council before.
Unopposed in the primary were Republicans Clay Kellerman, Oldenburg, circuit court 2 judge; Karla Bauman, Brookville, circuit court clerk; Stephen Brack, Brookville, auditor; Wanda “Tink” Lee, Brookville, coroner; Joe Sizemore, Metamora, District 1 council; Keith Hall, West Harrison, District 2 council; and Jeff Koch, Oldenburg, District 3 council; and Democrats Mel Wilhelm, Brookville, prosecuting attorney; Jerry Erfman, Brookville, auditor; Sharon Halcomb, Brookville, assessor.
John Worth, Franklin County Republican Party chair, pointed out the preliminary May election is “the American way ... people make their choices.” As the head of the party locally, he admitted, “I’m always glad when the primary comes and goes. It’s like a family feud. Now we know who our winning team will be in the fall!”
Tom Vohland, Franklin County Democratic Party chair, lamented the poor showing of voters. Thinking about educational decisions at the state level and county budget problems, he said, “You would hope people would get out to vote to express their opinions.”
The countywide turnout was a dismal 16.5 percent, quite a bit lower than the 20.5 percent for the 2012 primary. County clerk Karla Bauman, who oversaw the election, reported, “We’re a little worried about Batesville.” She was mystified why just 117 cast ballots at Batesville I. That polling place had the highest number of registered voters (1,416) of all 23 county precincts, but tallied the lowest turnout, 8.3 percent. The largest turnouts were Brookville II with 26.3 percent and Metamora with 25.1 percent.
Debbie Blank can be contacted at email@example.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.