County ballot has a mix of contested, uncontested races

Races for political office in Whitley County range from uncontested shoo-ins to hotly-debated battles for office in both county government and in the townships.The Post & Mail sent out candidate comment forms to candidates in all county races. Some candidates did not respond.Circuit Court ClerkClerk of the Circuit Court Debbie Beers faces challenger Janet Middlebrook.“I pledge my personal accessibility to the public and will continue to provide a friendly, professional and efficient office,” said Beers.Janet Middlebrook could not be reached for comment.County AuditorFor Whitley County Auditor, Linda Gerig has reached the end of her second four-year term.Candidates Janet Hindbaugh and Jen McGuire will vie for Gerig’s spot.“I have been active in the community and have worked with many organizations involving the youth as they are our leaders of tomorrow,” said Hindbaugh.In recent political ads, McGuire said she wants “those who visit or contact the (Auditor’s) office to feel comfortable and have a better understanding of their property taxes and the functions of the Auditor’s Office.”Recorder, Sheriff, AssessorApril Whetstone, Mark Hodges and Angela Adams are all unopposed for the offices of Recorder, Sheriff and Assessor respectively.County CommissionerFor the Whitley County Board of Commissioners in District 2, incumbent Michael Schrader will attempt to defend his seat against challenger George Schrumpf.“We need to continue economic development while protecting our values,” said Schrader. “I will continue a common-sense approach to the issues, now and in the future.”“I’m a conservative businessman, not a politician,” said Schrumpf. “I’m hoping to make a difference in Whitley County.”County CouncilWhitley County Councilmen John Barrett, District 1, and Jim Bayman, District 4 are both unopposed.In District 2, incumbent Kim Wheeler seeks to defend his seat against challenger Clifford Crance.“I have worked in many counties and I feel that Whitley County can be proud in what we have,” said Wheeler.Crance is hoping to be the proverbial “fresh set of eyes.”“I want to inject a different thought process in Whitley County government,” he said, adding the voters should “try a different perspective, get new blood on the council and mix things up.”Incumbent Glen LaRue and James Prentice will compete for the District 3 slot on the council.“I want to accomplish the same things I’ve been trying to accomplish,” said LaRue.“I want to create jobs in our county. We need to promote jobs, particularly good-paying jobs. Things are tight right now and it’s only going to get worse.”Making progress in the midst of a recession is also the platform for Prentice, who said “I would like to make sure Columbia City and Whitley County in general are more viable places to bring business to,” Prentice said. “Property taxes is a large issue so I’d like to see a nice balance between having enough money to conduct business and being attractive enough to attract business.”Township OfficesIn the races for township trustees, three townships — Richland, Thorncreek and Union will feature contested elections.For township board positions, each race will have three slots available. The contested races are those where there is more than three candidates.The following are contested township elections.In Richland Township, the trustee election features Darcy Hoopingarner and Brad Gebert, both of Columbia City.For selection to the Richland Township board, candidates Jennifer Baxter and Kent Kneller, both of Larwill, and Eddie Myers and Stan Studebaker, both of South Whitley, will seek the three available seats.Columbia Township’s board race features candidates Matthew Boyd, Cristina Rider, Chet Simon and Eddie Beagles, all of Columbia City.A hotly-contested race for township trustee in Thorncreek Township features incumbent Eugene Heckman and challenger Steve Heaston while in Union Township, Darl Leininger and Mark Roach vie for that township’s trustee position.The Union Township board race has six candidates seeking the three spots.Those hopefuls are Nicole Harris, William Minnick, Sue Roach, Todd Auer, Dennis Jines and Carlene Weirick.In Washington Township, Ryan Walter, Ritter Cox, Dan Dentzer and John Hilligoss make up the field seeking three positions on that board.