Hamilton County loses some clout

The County Line

Hamilton County is going to be losing a lot of its clout in the state legislature. Not only has Luke Kenley, formerly chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, retired from office, but now Kathy Richardson, House Majority Caucus chair, has announced she will not run for re-election.

Both legislators are Noblesville residents. Kenley has been replaced by Victoria Spartz, also of Noblesville. Only time will tell who replaces Richardson after next year’s session.

Richardson has served in the House of Representatives since 1993. District 29 which she represents includes Noblesville, Wayne and most of White River townships. She has won overwhelming re-election every two years since her initial election in 1992.

Kathy says she will run next spring for County Clerk, a job she once held prior to her legislative career. Present Clerk Tammy Baitz is retiring next year.

The big question is: who will seek Kathy’s seat in the legislature?

You can make a pretty safe bet it will be a Republican from Noblesville since the district is heavily Republican and Noblesville is the only major community in the district.

Names that come to mind would include County Councilman Brad Beaver, who made an unsuccessful attempt to replace Kenley. City Councilor Megan Wiles, who also made a run for Kenley’s vacated seat. Or, how about Mike Howard, city/county attorney? Or, maybe Steve Nation, who is likely to retire next year as judge of Superior Court 1?

All these folks have pretty good name recognition and have had experience in government. But, obviously, no one has made any intentions known since it was only this week that Kathy made her surprise announcement that she would not seek another term.

It will be unfortunate for Noblesville and for the legislature to lose Kathy as a House member. She has become known statewide as the expert in election administration. She has never enjoyed or been a part of controversy. A couple of years ago she was probably passed over for an appointment as Secretary of State because she wouldn’t play politics to get to the head of the line when the office became vacant.

Many folks tend to think it doesn’t much matter who represents our county in the legislature, but it can. Without Kathy and Luke in the Statehouse, their successors and other local legislators Tony Cook, Victoria Spartz and Jerry Torr are going to have to work hard to keep legislative focus on the best interests of Hamilton County.