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May 6, 2014

Lewis wins Vigo County Assessor primary spot

TERRE HAUTE — Vigo County Assessor Debbie Lewis appears set for another four-year term after holding off a strong challenge from West Terre Haute businessman Kevin Gardner in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

According to unofficial results, incumbent Lewis won 4,678 votes to Gardner’s 3,738 — roughly a victory of 55 percent to 45 percent.

“I put it all in the hands of God,” Lewis said when asked about the election result. “I’m happy I won. Evidently, this is where I’m supposed to be for the next four years.”

Lewis, 60, has worked in the Vigo County assessor’s office since 1986 and has served as assessor for the past 12 years. She was unopposed in 2010 and, unless a Republican candidate emerges, she will be unopposed in the general election in November.

Gardner, 46, congratulated Lewis on her victory Tuesday night, but said he still believes there are errors in the assessment process. Those might now be corrected, he said.

“I’d like to thank everyone for helping,” Gardner said of his volunteers and supporters. When asked whether he plans to seek a public office again in the future, he said it is too soon to say.

Gardner received the state certifications necessary to serve as Vigo County assessor and said he plans to maintain those certifications in the future. He currently serves on the county’s property tax appeals board.

Lewis said there are always going to be those who disagree with their property assessments.

“We’re always looking for better evidence and better data,” Lewis said. “That’s what we’ll continue to do.”

Indiana law now requires that assessors pass tests and receive special certifications to serve in office. Because of the length of time needed in that process and the state’s testing schedule, it appears unlikely any Republican candidate will emerge to challenge Lewis in November, meaning Tuesday’s Democratic primary was essentially the county assessor’s race.

Lewis said she wanted to thank all those who worked on her behalf and supported her in the campaign.

“I met some really fantastic taxpayers,” Lewis said. As for the next four years: “I will give it my all,” she said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes

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