SOUTHERN INDIANA — Although few Southern Indiana candidates filed for office Wednesday, the first day for the 2020 primary election, others say they plan to in the coming days — still weeks ahead of the Feb. 7 deadline.
At the top of the ticket in both Clark and Floyd counties is of course the seats for president, vice president and Indiana governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, followed by state and county seats.
In Clark County, Kevin Vissing was the first of the day to file, throwing his hat in for his third term as a Clark County Council at-large member.
"I never dreamed I'd be the first one," he said. "I was there probably about 9:30, so when they told me I was the first one it kind of surprised me...I figured there would be more than that already."
Vissing's is one of three at-large seats up for election this year including Brian Lenfert's, who confirmed he will not be seeking re-election.
"We're doing very well now, we're almost back to where we should be," Vissing said. "When I first came on, the [previous] council had made some errors and our levy got messed up and we ended up being in a bad financial shape for a long time. We're finally back up to where we should be."
Vissing attributed this to the bipartisan work the council has been able to do up to this point, giving special thanks to council president Barbara Hollis and vice president Lenfert for their efforts.
A.D. Stonecipher was the second and only other person to file in Clark County by 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to voter registration staff. He's seeking roles as a Republican precinct committee person and Republican state delegate. Stonecipher was also recently re-elected to the Clarksville Town Council.
But others say they have plans in the works. A staff member with U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth's office confirmed that he plans to seek re-election to a third term, but added that as a big proponent of term-limits, Hollingsworth would not seek a term beyond a fourth.
Clark County Commissioners' incumbents Jack Coffman in District 2 and Connie Sellers in District 1, also both say they want to continue work undertaken in the past four years.
Coffman, seeking a third term, said he wants to see projects completed including the heavy haul road, which would connect the River Ridge Commerce Center to the Ports of Indiana. He also wants to see Bethany Road finished and get momentum on the new Clark County government center. A request for proposals is expected to be sent out in the coming weeks.
"It's just an exciting time in Clark County," Coffman said. "The growth is phenomenal and there are a lot of things we need to be working on to get us in good condition for things that are going to happen.
"That's why I took this job in the first place is to be a servant to the community and I wanted to continue that process."
Sellers, seeking her second term, said she wants to continue work the commissioners have done in this term to cut spending, and to complete a new zoning ordinance needed after the comprehensive plan was put into effect.
"When I ran that's what I ran on because of the new East End [Lewis and Clark] Bridge and how that's going to affect that corridor and new industries coming in," she said. "My number one goal was to protect the farmers."
Clark County Coroner Billy Scott also confirmed his plan to run for re-election, although he's not yet filed, either,
"I have enjoyed the past three years and I would be honored to serve the people of Clark County again," he said.
Voters in Floyd County will cast their votes for a number of posts in the upcoming election cycle. Only one candidate, however, turned in their registration on the first day of filings.
Anthony Oxendine, owner of Spring Valley Funeral Home, is hoping to take over as the county’s coroner in the next election. Oxendine brings with him nearly four decades in the funeral profession, which he said makes him uniquely qualified.
“I feel like there’s no one better qualified than me, since I’ve done this my entire life," he said. "My goal is to help those that can’t’ help themselves. I want to make sure the poor are taken care of. I want to give back to the community that’s helped me.”
State-level positions up for grabs in the county are Indiana State Representative for District 72, which is currently occupied by Rep. Ed Clere, and District 70, a seat held by Karen Engleman.
At the county level, the ballot will hold options for circuit court judge, recorder, surveyor and treasurer, as well as three at-large seats for county council. Three spots will also be filled for the New Albany-Floyd County School Corp. board, with terms ending for those serving at-large and Districts 3 and 4 seats.
The Floyd County Commissioners will surely see at least one new face join the board, with District 3 representative Billy Stewart stepping away from his role in December.
Later this month, a replacement is expected to be caucused in. Commissioner John Schellenberger said that several applicants are currently in the mix for the position. What's not certain is whether or not the person selected will also run in the 2020 election.
“We have some candidates that are interested in finishing this term, but not running again," Schellenberger said. "We have some who want to take over for Billy, then run in the election. We have a variety of qualified people, really.”
Schellenberger also confirmed he will seek a second term in his District 2. His first term as a commissioner came after his election in 2016, having previously served on the Floyd County Council for 10 years.
“When you go out and ask for somebody’s vote, you’re asking them to put their trust in you that you’re going to be best for the county," he said. "Each election, I go in the same way. I feel like the underdog, and I go into win."
— Staff writer John Boyle contributed to this story