ANDERSON — Discussion of the annexation of Summerlake subdivision has intensified the race for Ingalls Town Council as the voters’ selection could determine the fate of the annexation.
There are two at-large seats up for election on Nov. 4 with incumbent Republicans Tim Green, the council president, and Cheryl Martin up for re-election. They are being challenged by Democrats Tonie Caraway and Georgia Parker. Since the two seats are at large, every Ingalls residents can vote and will be asked to choose two of the four on the ballot.
Of the four candidates, only Martin is in favor of the annexation of Summerlake. Green said he is against involuntary annexation and voted against moving forward with the discussion of the annexation when it was introduced in August.
Martin, who has been on the council for eight years, said she thinks the time is right to do the annexation of Summerlake.
“We already annexed the commercial land out there, we’re going to have to provide services. It makes sense for Ingalls,” Martin said. “I’m committed to doing what I think is best for the community.”
She stressed that the fiscal impact of the annexation hasn’t been finalized at this time. She wants to make sure the numbers show an annexation would be feasible before fully committing to it.
Green, who has served on the council for 18 years, said the Summerlake annexation is the “biggest thing Ingalls has faced in 30 or 40 years.” He said not doing the annexation correctly could result in disaster for the town.
He said he has always fought for what he believes was best for the town during his time on the council and thinks the continued support he receives from voters backs that up.
“I’m a fighter,” Green said. “I’ve always fought for the people in this town and I’m going to continue to do that.”
Both Caraway and Parker are currently members of the planning commission and have been involved in the annexation discussion from the beginning. Parker, who has served on the council before, said she doesn’t think the timing is right for the annexation.
“I am not currently for the annexation,” Parker said. “In the future yes, but Ingalls needs to grow first. Right now there’s too much space between us and Summerlake.”
Caraway echoed those thoughts and said she thinks the annexation process should only be started if the Summerlake residents are fully on board.
The Ingalls board is currently comprised of five people, all of them Republican. Three of them, including Martin, have been in favor of looking at the annexation, while Green and Tim Millikan have been opposed. If Martin is not re-elected, the council’s opinion on the annexation could swing in the other direction.
Despite all the council members being members of the GOP, it’s the Democrats who are running on the platform of trying to give Ingalls residents a more unified board.
Caraway said the council has become very divided over the past few years, something she thinks she can change if elected.
Parker said the people of Ingalls are not equally represented by the current board.
“We need to start listening to what the people want,” Parker said.
The only competitive race in Pendleton is between incumbent Democrat John Armington and GOP challenger Jessica Smith.
Smith said she decided to run after being encouraged by several individuals. She works as a paralegal and grew up in Pendleton, graduating from Pendleton Heights High School in 2004. She said she wants to bring a younger perspective to the council.
“There are a lot of younger families moving to Pendleton and I think the council needs a younger voice,” Smith said. “I think I can relate to a lot of the things the demographic might be worried about.”
Armington has been on the council four years. Before that the 28-year Pendleton resident was president of the zoning board and vice president of the redevelopment commission. Armington was the driving force behind the town’s recent annexation that saw Pendleton take in about 750 acres stretching west to Indiana 13.
“We’ve continued to make improvements every year I’ve been on the board,” Armington said. “I initiated the annexation, which is going to be a big part of the future of Pendleton. I initiated the Pendleton Art Society taking over the old town hall and I initiated the driving range at the golf course.”
Smith said she is a little hesitant about the annexation, which will be finalized sometime next year. Instead she wants to focus on the current town.
“Sometimes growing too big, too fast can lead to issues,” Smith said. “I want to focus on the current land, especially the downtown area. I think there are still too many empty storefronts in Pendleton.”
Council President Robert Jones’ term is also up but no Democrat filed to run against him.
There are also no Democratic challengers in the races for Lapel Town Council. Current members Tim Munro and Clay Parkison decided not to run again. Republicans Dave Taylor and Lindsay Washmuth are the only candidates running for the at-large seats.
Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB, or call 640-4847.
Ingalls Town Council candidates
Voters will vote for two
Tim Green, Republican Georgia Parker, Democrat
Cheryl Martin, Republican Tonie Caraway, Democrat
Pendleton Town Council candidates
Voters will vote for one
Jessica Smith, Republican John Armington, Democrat