Republicans still control Hamilton County, but Democrats gaining ground 


Republicans maintained their dominance in Hamilton County in the Nov. 6 election, although Democrats saw more support than any other time in recent history and won four races.

Voter turnout was high, with many people waiting an hour or more to cast ballots on Election Day. Leaders of both parties were encouraged by the turnout.

“It was wonderful to see so much interest in the midterm elections, resulting in Republican victories across Hamilton County and at the state and federal level,” said Laura Campbell, Hamilton County Republican Party chair. “Our Republican leadership looks forward to continuing to make Hamilton County a great place to live, work and play, and we thank the voters for their confidence in our leadership.”

Although most of the Democratic candidates lost their races, Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Weingarten said the voting split went from approximately 30 percent in favor of Democrats in 2016 to 40 percent this year.

“I feel great (about the results),” Weingarten said. “My candidates who lost don’t feel good, and that’s understandable, but the overall momentum that we’re building makes me very hopeful for continuing in the future.”

See a full list of Hamilton County election results at

Brooks surprised by margin  

U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, a Republican from Carmel, knew she would not be a shoo-in to retain the Fifth District seat she’s held since taking office in 2013. She defeated Democratic challenger Dee Thornton with 58 percent of the vote overall and 61 percent of the vote in Hamilton County.

“I’m incredibly humbled and honored that the voters – in even larger margins than I thought – are returning me to Congress for a fourth term,” she said Nov. 7.

Indiana’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives remains at seven Republicans and two Democrats, but nationwide the Democrats gained enough seats to take control. Brooks doesn’t believe the political shift will stop her from getting work done for her constituents.

“All of the legislation I’ve done has always had a partner across the aisle,” she said. “Because I’ve done that for six years, I assume I’ll be one of those members the Democrats will reach out to to move legislation.”

Ford ousts Delph in District 29

The Democrats narrowed the margin of Republican victory in many statewide races including Hamilton County, but in the race for State Senate District 29 they overcame it.

Democrat J.D. Ford, an Indianapolis resident and the first openly-LGBT candidate elected to the Indiana legislature, defeated incumbent Mike Delph. Delph won Hamilton County with slightly more than 50 percent of the vote, but Ford captured nearly 55 percent of the votes in the district, which includes portions of Boone, Hamilton and Marion counties.

Ford did not respond to a request for comment, but Weingarten said he was not surprised to see Democrats prevail in this race.

CCS incumbents re-elected

All three Carmel Clay Schools incumbents will remain on the school board, as voters elected them to four year terms that begin in 2019.

Board President Layla Spanenberg won the race for District 1 with 55 percent of the vote. She defeated political newcomer Sara Elitriby.

“Throughout my campaign, I had the privilege of meeting so many wonderful parents, staff members, students and community members who truly care about Carmel Clay Schools,” Spanenberg stated in an email. “I am proud to serve such an outstanding school district and I am looking forward to working together to continue the tradition of excellence that is Carmel Clay Schools.”

Pamela Knowles retained the District 2 seat, defeating Venkata NK Tadikonda by earning 73 percent of the vote.

Mike Kerschner held off two challengers, Cinnamon Bell-Williams and Eric Morris, by receiving 48 percent of the vote.

Knowles and Kerschner did not respond to requests for comment.

The three incumbents ran uncontested in the 2014 general election.

Quakenbush elected sheriff

Republican Dennis Quakenbush will replace Hamilton County Sheriff Mark Bowen, who could not run again because of Indiana term limits for sheriffs, in 2019 to serve a four-year term.

Quakenbush received 60 percent of the vote, compared to Democrat Jason Straw’s 36 percent and Libertarian Duane “Dorn” Brenton’s 3 percent.

“I have been honored to serve on the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Dept. for over 16 years,” stated Quakenbush, who serves as the captain of the patrol division for the HCSO. “During that time, as patrol commander for almost eight years. With that, I am humbled to have received the news that I will be your next sheriff of Hamilton County.”

Republicans also retained positions as county coroner, auditor, clerk and across the county council and commission.

Editor Sadie Hunter contributed to this report.


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