News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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February 9, 2014

MAX JONES: Dawn of new day in local elections

TERRE HAUTE — After a year off from the electoral process, counties across Indiana are gearing up for their next exercise in democratic politics, the 2014 primary election.

The last day candidates could file for the primary was Friday, so ballots are set for the May 6 election.

Normally, primaries don’t draw the same voter interest or activity as general elections, although history indicates Vigo County primaries don’t always follow that trend. Because the Democratic Party has dominated local politics for generations, real elections often occurred in the Democratic primary.

That hasn’t been the case in the past few elections, however, as the Republican Party has ridden the strength of good candidates to take control of a couple important offices, namely county prosecutor and mayor of Terre Haute.

Prosecutor is on the ballot this year (the mayoral race will be next year).

Two-term incumbent Republican Prosecutor Terry Modesitt looks like a strong candidate for a third term — so strong, in fact, that the Democrats haven’t made much of an effort to challenge him so far. There is no Democrat candidate at this moment, although the party could add one to the ballot after the primary.

What is shaping up as the most interesting and competitive primary campaign this spring is for the Superior Court Division 2 judge’s seat being vacated by Phil Adler.

Superior court judge seats are highly sought after, usually by veteran lawyers. A superior court judge makes a little more than $138,000 a year and enjoys good benefits and a state pension package. A judge serves a six-year term.

Two Democrats, John A. Kesler II and Lakshmi “Lucky” Reddy, and one Republican, Christopher J. Dailey, are on their respective ballots for the judge’s seat. Don’t be surprised if the race for the Democratic nomination produces the most expensive local primary campaign.

Not every primary race in Vigo and surrounding counties in the Tribune-Star’s circulation area will be contested, but many will be. There will certainly be enough to command voter attention.

The Tribune-Star take its role in reporting on politics and elections as seriously as anything we do. There a very few stories more important.

Again this year, we will produce a special section before both the primary and general elections, focusing on the races and candidates running in them. The primary election preview section will include reports from Vigo, Clay, Sullivan, Vermillion, Parke and Greene counties.

We haven’t set a publication date yet, but expect the election section to be inserted into the paper in late April. We will let you know when an exact date is set. Because of the trend toward early voting, we try to publish the section early enough to make it useful, but not so early that potential voters really aren’t focusing on the election yet.

The stories in the section will give you vital information on the candidates. In major contested races, we’ll expand the coverage to include a discussion about key issues. We will strive to give you everything you need to know to be an informed voter when you go to the polls.

Of course, when news breaks surrounding the election, we will cover it in the daily newspaper, as well.

As always, we encourage you to give us feedback about our news coverage.

Max Jones can be reached at 812-231-4336, or by email at max.jones@tribstar.com. Follow him on Twitter, @TribStarMax.

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