The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Politics

March 22, 2014

Ken de la Bastide: Politics behind annexation defeat for Anderson

With Anderson missing out on the last bite of the apple for access to Interstate 69, the back story on the decision not to annex to exit 219 is fraught with political intrigue.

A year ago Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith proposed two annexation areas, one to the northeast in Richland Township and the second to the southwest to the Ind. 13 at exit 219.

The effort failed when the Anderson City Council voted against both proposed annexations. Since that time Lapel, Ingalls and Pendleton have all attempted to annex property along Interstate 69 near the Madison County border.

A revived effort this year to annex the southwest corridor this year failed when the council didn’t conduct a special meeting.

The political discussion took place concerning the number of Republican voters that would be brought into the city limits and the impact it would have on future elections.

Email communications between Economic Development Director Greg Winkler and Democrats on the council obtained by The Herald Bulletin show the “D” and “R” numbers were in play.

In February of this year, Winkler sent an email to the council members indicating there was no scenario to balance the Republican and Democrat voters.

“Based on voting records from presidential elections there simply are not enough D’s within annexation limits to achieve this balance,” Winkler wrote.

During the first round of annexation discussions in 2014 the Smith administration offered to delay the annexation for up to three years. That would have brought those areas into the city in 2016, which is after the next municipal elections in 2015.

Another offer was to discuss with Republican Party leadership not to run candidates in the 2015 city council election against Democrats that would be impacted by the annexation.

Russ Willis, chairman of the Republican Party, said there were discussions about delaying the effective date of the annexation, which would have kept people in the annexed area from voting in the 2015 elections.

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