The Herald Bulletin

October 19, 2013

Jim Bailey: Changing of the guard is a constant in local government

The Herald Bulletin

---- — The announcement of Pendleton town manager Doug McGee’s leaving his post, and the impending retirement of Town Council President Don Henderson, brought home to me the constant process of change in the leadership of communities everywhere.

My last two full-time years at The Herald Bulletin were spent covering southern and western Madison County, and McGee and Henderson were two of my primary contacts in Pendleton. Looking back, most of the news sources I called on during that time no longer hold the positions they had a decade or so ago.

But changing of the guard is inevitable. Kevin Smith had just become mayor of Anderson during that stretch. Since then he lost an election, then won again. Anderson Community Schools has gone through a couple of superintendents. Of course, mayors and school superintendents find it as easy to make enemies as friends in the course of exercising their responsibilities. ACS hasn’t had a really popular superintendent since the days of G.E. Ebbertt nearly half a century ago.

When Henderson leaves, only Jeanette Isbell will remain from the Pendleton Town Council I covered as a reporter in the mid-2000s. Tim Ryan remains as clerk-treasurer. George Gasparovic remains as town court judge. Chet Babb is new to the council, and I remember his name from my early years as a sportswriter when he played sports for Daleville High School.

Amy McGinnis and Richard “Buck” Evans remain on the South Madison school board. But the board has a new superintendent, Joe Buck, who had just become a Pendleton Heights High School administrator in those days.

Joanne Amick and Tami Davis were relatively new to the Frankton-Lapel school board in the mid-2000s, and Bobby Fields, now superintendent, had just become assistant superintendent.

The faces on several other town councils have changed. Only Lapel President Gary Shuck and member Tony Pearson still hold their offices, along with Frankton board member Howard Sowers, Markleville’s Sally Gustin and Ingalls’ Tim Green. Kip Golden remains Ingalls clerk-treasurer.

On the Edgewood Town Council, however, longevity is the name of the game. President Patricia Farran, Jodi Norrick and Art Leak were members when I covered their meetings. Two other longtime members I knew from long before in other capacities, John Gunter as Madison County sheriff and longtime Anderson policeman and Julie Armington as one of Indiana’s top women golfers, longtime Realtor and the mother of an Indiana girls basketball all-star.

Often the voters make the final decisions as to who continues in office from term to term. But even the most popular elected officials eventually come to the point where they decide to call it a career or pursue another direction.

Thus Mike Pence, once the congressman who represented Madison County, is now governor of Indiana. And Scott Reske ran unsuccessfully for Congress instead of remaining as one of Madison County’s state legislators.

Jim Bailey’s reflections on Anderson’s past appear on Sunday. His regular column appears on Thursday. He can be reached by email at