Politics, favorite topic for many this spring

Remembering Judge Ardery . . .

The County Line

I am told that many of our Reporter readers are interested in local politics. We are now entering a new election season with the primary only a little over three months away. The Republican primary is of great importance in Hamilton County because our 50 local elective officeholders are usually chosen in the primary. Democrats rarely are successful in the November general election.

The last Democrat to win a countywide election was Charles W. Ardery who was elected 60 years ago as judge of the Hamilton Circuit Court. Charlie is now 87 and a resident of the Robin Run Village, a retirement community in northwest Indianapolis.

He was elected in 1958 at the age of 35 in a stunning upset over the GOP candidate Warren Day. Charlie was a popular member of the local Jaycees, a prominent organization at the time. He also worked hard, really hard, to win election, getting some Republicans to jump the fence, and had the good fortune of running in a year when there was a nationwide trend favoring Democrats.

The judge served one six-year term and did not seek re-election. He moved to Indianapolis where he practiced law for many years. Charlie had grown up in a rural area near Westfield learning an appreciation for the law and politics from his mother, Phoebe Jane Ardery, a lawyer and red-hot Democrat herself.

While speaking of strong Democrats, current County Chairman Joe Weingarten is among those who are considering changing the name of the party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner. It seems some in the party feel that in our age of political correctness the Democrats should not have their traditional political gala named for slave owners as were both Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.

Actually, former President Jefferson is considered to have been a Democratic Republican in the days before parties were operating under their current names. By President Jackson’s time in the 1820s-30s the name became simply Democrat. Jackson took a hit just last year when federal officials decided to take his portrait off the $20 bill sometime in the near future because of some of his actions against American Indians as well as his record as a slave owner.

Meanwhile, Republicans are planning their annual gala, the Lincoln Day Dinner, which will be held this year in a new location at the 502 East banquet center in Carmel. They are planning on having the five candidates for U.S. Senate as honored guests at the March 22 event. One of the five will be chosen in the May 8 primary to challenge incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly in November.

The county GOP has also moved their headquarters from Fishers to Westfield where they have more office and meeting space as they prepare for the 2018 election cycle. They plan to gear up for a tough general election campaign as Hamilton County is seen as an increasingly important player statewide.

Also, county election officials are planning to continue to have early voting centers which presumably help encourage greater voter participation. The voting centers were well received in the 2016 election when locations were established at the Carmel Library and Fishers City Hall. This year there is consideration of another site in Westfield.

Hours and exact locations will be announced later. The general idea is to give voters an opportunity to cast their ballot during evening hours and weekends at locations closer to the homes of many citizens. Early voting will also continue to be offered at the Government and Judicial Center in Noblesville.

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