BROWNSTOWN

Within the first hour of primary election filing Wednesday at the Jackson County Courthouse in Brownstown, five people with a desire to fill a county position had filled out their paperwork.

By noon, that number had grown to six.

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Jackson County Clerk Amanda Lowery was happy to see people willing to join the political process and serve the county.

“I love elections,” she said, smiling. “It’s always exciting to see who is going to come in to run for an office. There are surprises usually, some not. It’s fun to be the first to know.”

Lowery, who is overseeing election filings for the fifth year, said those interested in running for a countywide office need to have a voting record that shows affiliation with a major political party. If they don’t have a voting history established, they need certification from the chairperson of the party for which they choose to run.

That allows them to fill out a declaration of candidacy and a statement of economic interest in Lowery’s office. She then provides them with a candidate filing confirmation and campaign finance requirements.

Some people choose to fill out all of the paperwork in her office, while others download it from the state website and have most of it filled out before going to the clerk’s office.

The deadline to file for one of the 10 county positions for the primary election is noon Feb. 5. Higher positions, such as judge, file at the state level with the Indiana Election Division, Lowery said.

Shortly after filing started at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Republican Bob Gillaspy of Seymour was the first one to greet Lowery. He filed for the county commissioner District 2 seat, presently held by Seymour Republican Tom Joray.

“I really have always been interested in politics and have had to appear in my line of work in front of the commissioners before, and I just think I would like the job,” Gillaspy said.

Gillaspy has worked in construction for more than 30 years and said the experience he has gained and the people he has interacted with will benefit him if he is elected.

“I think everybody should be involved in their community and in government,” Gillaspy said. “Everybody’s got a right to voice their opinion, and the voting process is the way to do it.”

The lifelong Jackson County resident said he is excited about being involved in the campaign process for the first time and visiting with people in District 2, which includes Hamilton, Jackson, Redding and Vernon townships.

“Just getting out and meeting a lot of people and shaking a lot of hands and hopefully walking in a few parades … talking to them and finding out what they expect as far as county government,” he said. “Jackson County is a good place to live, and I’ve been here all my life and enjoy the people. I’ve got a lot of friends.”

Republican Drew Markel of Seymour was second in line Wednesday morning. He filed for county commissioner District 1, which is now held by Vallonia Republican Jerry Hounshel and covers Brownstown, Driftwood, Grassy Fork and Washington townships.

“I had some people in the community reach out to me and ask if I would like to run for a countywide office because it is hard to get people to run for different offices and get people to give other people a voice,” Markel said.

Markel said he also was inspired to run for office after his experience with Leadership Jackson County this past year.

“Just learning more about the community, the county, we have a large county, and it takes a lot to maintain this county,” Markel said. “I think that’s what a lot of people need better informed on is what it takes to maintain the roads, what it takes to maintain a budget and keep the county within budget.”

Markel recently established a Facebook page to announce his candidacy for county commissioner. He said that tool and a website he plans to launch will allow people to contact him, and he wants to visit with county departments and find out what is going well and learn about any concerns.

“I have no agenda. I have no reason to rebuke any government that has been going on,” Markel said. “It’s really just trying to listen.”

Markel was joined by his wife, two children and parents in filing Wednesday. His brother, who will serve as the campaign manager, and friend, who will be the campaign finance manager, also were on hand.

“You have to have family support. Running and campaigning is hard,” Markel said. “I try to do everything with the family, but my kids are great, and they love doing everything. I try to explain to them, too, that the business of being in a position like this is helping people. … I always try to tell them government has to make hard decisions, and they make decisions that aren’t popular, but you try to do it in the best interest of the people. It’s a good thing to teach your kids.”

The next person filing was county surveyor Dan Blann, who hopes to earn his second four-year term. The Brownstown Republican said he ran for that office in 2008 and was first elected in 2012.

He has been a licensed land surveyor for 20 years and has owned Foresight Land Surveying since 2003.

“The office of surveyor, there’s a lot of history involved, there’s a lot about it that has always intrigued me and I’ve always found fascinating,” Blann said. “One of my goals after I got licensed, I thought, ‘Someday, I would like to be the county surveyor.’ I enjoy working with the public, I like working with people, and surveyors are notorious problem solvers. … There are a lot of challenges that I enjoy trying to solve.”

When Blann started as county surveyor, he set four- and eight-year plans.

“Some of those goals we made well before the four years, and some of them we’ve still got to achieve,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of good things. We still have ditches to clean, we still have corners to set, and I’d like to see that through with another term.”

About 9 a.m., Andy Rumph and Kathy Hohenstreiter entered the clerk’s office. Rumph, a Seymour Democrat, filed for county coroner, while Hohenstreiter, a Seymour Republican, filed for re-election for county auditor.

Rumph was the county coroner from 2000 to 2008 and has since been the deputy coroner under Roger Wheeler. Wheeler is in the final year of his second term, and state law limits coroners to two terms at a time.

Rumph has been in the funeral business since 1986 and has operated his own business since 2010. He also was a police officer in Seymour for four years.

“I’ve been both a police officer, and I own a funeral home, so I’m in the funeral business, and (county coroner) just fits right between those two niches as far as being compassionate with families that suffered losses and versus the investigation …,” he said.

“We just care a lot about the job, everyone that’s in the office,” he said. “So we just want to maintain what we’ve got going and keep it going.”

The sixth person to file Wednesday was Seymour Democrat Bradley Smith for the county commissioner District 2 seat.

At a glance

County residents interested in filing for one of the 10 countywide offices up for election this year have until noon Feb. 5 to file paperwork with the clerk’s office in the Jackson County Courthouse in Brownstown.

For information, call the clerk’s office at 812-358-6116.

County positions up for election in the May 3 primary include:

  • County commissioner District 1
  • County commissioner District 2
  • County council at-large (three seats)
  • County treasurer
  • County auditor
  • County surveyor
  • County coroner
  • Jackson Superior Court II judge

Jackson County voters also will elect the following state or national level positions:

  • Ninth District Congressman
  • Indiana senator
  • State District 44 senator
  • State District 65, District 69 and District 73 representatives
  • President

At a glance

Voter registration is underway at the clerk’s office in the Jackson County Courthouse, 111 S. Main St., Brownstown; online at indianavoters.in.gov; or at license branches and libraries.

Voter registration for the primary election ends April 4.

For information, call the voter registration office at 812-358-6120.

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.