WHITLEY COUNTY — Whitley County voters made one thing clear in Tuesday’s Primary Election — it’s time for a change in county leadership.
Both county commissioner incumbents were booted from their seats. Only one current candidate will return to the ballot in November’s General Election.
As results rolled in, Thor Hodges, current Whitley County councilman, held a steady lead over his county council at-large opponents and will likely retain his seat in 2021.
Incumbent County Commissioners Don Amber and Tom Western were knocked out of the race by newcomer Theresa Green and current County Council President Chad Banks.
“I think the voters have been ready for new leadership and are looking forward to a change,” Banks said. “I’m thankful for Tom Western’s and Don Amber’s service to the county, but I think the voters sent a message. I’m thankful to Whitley County for trusting in me.”
Banks controlled the District 1 race, earning 62.53% of the votes over Western’s 37.47%. Green had 55.29% of the District 3 votes over Amber’s 44.71%,
“You never know what’s going to happen with the coronavirus and with my opponent being an incumbent,” Green said. “I think the community is ready for their elected officials to put them first and to want to do better — to think 5, 10, 15 years in the future.”
Hodges had a comfortable, 650-vote lead over his opponents in the County Council race, earning 20.32% of the votes. Jim Argerbright finished with 15.45%, and Joan Western edged Chad Nix to earn the third and final seat with 13.56%. Nix was one-tenth of a percent behind (23 votes) at 13.46%.
Other county council candidates were: Kelley Sheiss (12.63%), Adam Hurley (12.54%), Frank Johnson (7.39%) and Damien Stafford (4.65%).
Dane Drew won a close race over Mike Huffman for county surveyor with 50.64% of the votes — 55 more than Huffman.
A large percentage of voters took the absentee route, likely in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were 2,304 paper absentee voters and 469 walk-in absentee voters. A total of 3,681 turned out at the polls on election day.
There were no Democrat candidates who filed for local positions.
Joe Biden led Democrat votes in the Whitley County primary, with 77.66%, followed by Bernie Sanders with 13.13% and Pete Buttigieg at 3.93%.
Democrat Chip Coldiron earned votes in the District 3 U.S. Rep. spot, followed by Tommy Schrader with 22.25% of the votes.
On the Republican ballot, incumbent Jim Banks took a lopsided win in the District 3 U.S. Rep. race, earning 84.85% of the votes.
President Donald Trump got 91.88% of the Whitley County votes in the Republican primary.
In the precinct committeeman races:
Jason Spencer took Columbia South with 58.33% over Caleb Wakeman
Thor Hodges took Columbia 7 over Jennifer Romano with 55.97%
Theresa Green took Union East with 60.63% over Brandon Forrester
Jeff Ott took Washington South with 59.57% over Lisa Neely.