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Heavy candidate participation bodes well for political process

Vigo County has seen a surge of interest and engagement in civic affairs in recent years, and that’s good news in a number of ways. The more people who are informed and involved in our system of self-government, the more likely that government will perform properly and serve the people effectively.

The reason for the surge may seem obvious. The complex and often controversial process of dealing with the overcrowding problem at the Vigo County Jail sparked intense and sustained interest and discussion. People were eager to learn more about how the situation came about, how much it would cost to rectify it, and how a recurrence of the problem could be prevented in the future.

In the center of those debates were the Vigo County commissioners and Vigo County Council. The commissioners, as the executive branch of county government, formulated the plan to deal with the jail issue while the County County made key financial and taxing decisions.

It’s no surprise that the elective positions with the most candidates on the 2020 county election ballot are the two open commissioners seats and the three at-large council seats.

Commissioners Judith Anderson in District 2 and Brad Anderson (no relation) in the District 3 both decided not to seek reelection this year. Judith Anderson, a Democrat, has been a longtime commissioner and before that a member of the council. Brad Anderson, a Republican, was a longtime County Council member before moving into the commissioners’ office.

With seats lacking an incumbent going into the 2020 election cycle, candidates for the coveted positions are plentiful.

Judith Anderson’s District 2 seat has drawn three entrants into the Democratic primary — Pat Goodwin, a business owner and unsuccessful independent candidate for Terre Haute mayor in 2019; David Crockett, former county clerk; and Brian DeHart, a lieutenant in the sheriff’s department. County Council member Chris Switzer filed in the Republican primary.

Brad Anderson’s District 3 seat has drawn two Democratic candidates — Jeff Fisher, Terre Haute’s fire chief; and Steve Ellis, a business owner. County Council President Mike Morris filed for the Republican primary.

The County Council at-large races are bursting at the seams with candidates. There will be eight Democrats on the ballot and four Republicans. The top three vote-getters in each party primary will advance to the general election. The top three vote-getters in the general election will win a council seat.

Having full slates of qualified candidates is good for the local political process. We commend all of them for their willingness to participate and wish them well in the campaign ahead.

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