Warsaw primary election day officially canceled

Bill Morton (L), Democrat member of the Kosciusko County Election Board, and Vicki Morton (R), Democratic Party chair, discuss election matters at Monday morning’s Election Board meeting. Also present but not pictured were Ann Torpy, county clerk, and Randy Girod, Republican member of the board. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
By David Slone

WARSAW — It’s official — the city of Warsaw will not have a primary election this year because there are no contested races, but the city of Nappanee and the towns of Syracuse and Winona Lake will.

During the Kosciusko County Election Board meeting Monday, County Clerk Ann Torpy said she did not receive a notice from Kosciusko County Republican Party Central Committee Chair Mike Ragan wanting to have a primary election in Warsaw.

“I think in the primary we don’t have to have a resolution. We do in the fall election, but not in the primary election because that’s up to the chairman to make that decision,” she said.

As of now, Torpy said, Warsaw will not be having a primary election.

Uncontested Warsaw Republican candidates are Jeff Grose, mayor; Juergen Voss, District 1 Common Council; William Frush, District 4; Josh Finch, District 2; Cindy Dobbins, at-large; Diane Quance, District 5; Mike Klondaris, District 3; Jack Wilhite, at-large; and Lynne Christiansen, clerk-treasurer.

There are Republican primary races for Winona Lake, Syracuse and Nappanee.

In Winona Lake, Council District 4 incumbent Heather James chose to run for the clerk-treasurer position against incumbent Laurie Renier.

In Syracuse, Republicans David Rosenberry, Nathan Scherer and Brian Woody are running for the Council District 4 seat vacated by Larry Martindale Jan. 17. Scherer won the Feb. 7 caucus to sit on the Council for District 4 for the remainder of 2023. Also in Syracuse, Councilman Larry Siegel filed to run against incumbent Clerk-Treasurer Virginia Cazier.

For the city of Nappanee, according to the Elkhart County Clerk’s Office website, Districts 2 and 4 for the Common Council have two primary Republican contested races. Brayton Taylor and Austin Yoder are running for the second district while Jeremy Beach and Dustin Geyer are seeking the 4th District chair.

Torpy told the Election Board Monday what they needed to discuss regarding the election was the vote center plan. She said she was going to set an amendment to just the 2023 primary election, not the fall election, because at this point it’s uncertain if any of the smaller towns will have contested races.

The filing deadline for Republicans and Democrats for Warsaw, Winona Lake and Syracuse was noon Feb. 3. Filing for the general elections for Claypool, Etna Green, Leesburg, Mentone, North Webster, Pierceton, Sidney and Silver Lake ends at noon Aug. 1 for Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians.

Torpy originally said Christ Covenant Church will be used as a polling location for Winona Lake, Syracuse Community Center will be used for Syracuse and Mt. Tabor Hall will be used for Nappanee.

Early voting will be available in the county clerk’s office and Syracuse Community Center.

She then presented a resolution on the vote centers and early voting to the Election Board – which consists of Randy Girod, Republican member; Bill Morton, Democrat member; and Torpy – for their thoughts.

Vicki Morton, Kosciusko County Democratic Party chair, said before the meeting, they were discussing the possibility that maybe they didn’t need a vote center at Mt. Tabor.

“I just have that on there because I’m not sure if we want to give them an opportunity to have one for Nappanee. We would just need a precinct election board, which would be the inspector and two judges. So we wouldn’t have to have the whole board there if needed,” Torpy said, adding that she wanted to just make sure they had some place close for Nappanee voters to cast a ballot if they were interested in doing so.

The Election Board decided not to have a vote center at Mt. Tabor. As Kosciusko County now has vote centers, Nappanee residents in Kosciusko County can vote at the Syracuse or Winona Lake locations, with Syracuse Community Center being the closest.

Torpy said in 2015 the city of Nappanee, Kosciusko County only, had only 14 voters that cast a ballot. Right now, there are 120 registered voters in Nappanee in Kosciusko County. In 2019, she said, there were four votes total with three showing up at the polling location and one voted early at the Kosciusko County Justice Building.

For Winona Lake in the 2019 primary election, they had 432 total votes with 34 early voters. Syracuse had 199 votes total, with six early voters at the Justice Building and three were mail-out ballots.

“The state allows us to reduce times and hours, days and hours, for this election as long as it’s available,” she said.

Syracuse Community Center and the Justice Building will be used as an early voting locations on the two Saturdays before election day – April 22 and 29 – from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Early voting also will be available at the Justice Building April 24 to May 1 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The main reason for Monday’s Election Board meeting, according to Torpy, was to talk about poll workers and some of the things they wanted to improve in preparation for the 2024 election, which includes the presidential race. She said she would like to have a public meeting in the first part of 2024 or end of 2023 with some of the poll workers that have worked before.

Bill Morton brought up poll worker training and paying poll workers to attend the training. He said a certain skill set is needed at each polling location. He said he was in favor of paying for training and Girod agreed. Poll workers who attend training will receive an additional $20. Torpy will have to put that extra training pay into her 2024 budget.

“I think it would be better for all” to receive training, Torpy said. “The inspectors are mandatory training, but the others are at the discretion of the county election board if they want to have training, but I still think it’s necessary for that.”