GOP primary winner Scott Fadness is on track to become Fishers first mayor
By Ann Craig-Cinnamon
It had all the makings of an election night thriller: an historic election, a nail-bitingly close race, an electronic glitch that delayed the results and even a surprise personal announcement from the winner. But this was not a television script or even a major political campaign. This was Fishers.
There were six candidates vying to be the republican candidate for first mayor of the soon-to-be City of Fishers. And since, to date, there are no opponents running against them in the November general election, the primary winner has been considered the presumptive first mayor.
It became clear early in the evening as the returns started coming in from the precincts that the race would be between two of the candidates: Town Manager Scott Fadness and former long-time Town Council President Walt Kelly.
What started as a comfortable lead for Fadness faded and by the time approximately half of the precincts results were in, the two candidates were only separated by a few percentage points with some unpredictable areas yet uncounted. And then the results stopped coming in. What was already a painful wait for Fadness as his lead diminished then became excruciating. As it turned out, there was a technical problem at one of the polling places. Finally, the glitch was fixed, the results poured in and Fadness came out the winner by a margin of 46.5 percent to Kelly’s 42.2 percent.
Fadness, at his campaign headquarters jam-packed with supporters and reporters, thanked the crowd, calling it an historic night for Fishers and a night of “firsts.” He then broke the news that he and his wife, Aunna, were expecting their first child, coincidentally, due in November.
They had kept it a secret, Aunna Fadness said, because they didn’t want the news to interfere with the campaign.
“I am, first of all, so excited about all of Scott’s hard work paying off; and finally being able to tell people that we’re expecting and that we have a normal life too. The campaign was our first priority and just putting all of our energy and focus on that,” she said.
Describing himself as “overwhelmed and humbled” Fadness wasn’t sure what he was most excited about; being mayor or being a dad.
“Oh boy, it’s a tossup. I know one I can do because I have been a Town Manager but the dad thing will be a new adventure to say the least. But I’m just excited all the way around. What a great night,” he said. Concerning his immediate plans, Fadness said he will work toward a smooth transition. “For the next six to eight months, we’re just going to focus on the transition and just make sure that Fishers residents don’t see any disruption in their services. That’s what my focus is going to be and that we have a smooth transition and we set up a government that can be a model government moving forward. So that’s what I’ll focus on and then when I become mayor we’ll continue to work together. I don’t see it changing in that regard,” he said.
Fadness is the likely first mayor, but other parties do have until June 30 to get their candidates on the ballot for November. So until that deadline passes, Fadness cannot yet be given the title.
“People are obviously drawing their own assumptions given the fact that the vast majority of Fishers residents are Republican but ultimately, I think either way we’re going to be open to the challenge and we’ll continue to move forward,” he said.
One of the biggest supporters in his campaign for mayor has been Town Council President John Weingardt who was one of the celebrants on election night.
“I am so excited that Scott is going to be our first mayor. He’s going to be a great leader. He’s going to take our community to where we need to go. He’s got the right stuff to really make Fishers the best place in the country to live. He’s first class: great friend, great person, couldn’t be a better person for our community,” he said. Weingardt’s role will be somewhat diminished in city government since there will now be a mayor in charge. “I’m the last town council president so after this year I’ll just be a city councilman if everything goes well and we’ll just be a checks and balance. I know we’ll be working well together. I look forward to working with Scott. He’s the right guy and I’m very excited,” said Weingardt.
Across town, his close opponent Walt Kelly wished him well and said he was very proud of his team.
“They couldn’t have worked any harder. So, I think at the end of the day, there were six candidates and for some reason there were more votes cast for five people than there was for one. So, no sour grapes. I wish him the best of luck but clearly there was no mandate about what is being done downtown,” said Kelly.
Voter turnout was low across the county and was under 16 percent in Fishers despite the historic nature of the election.