Six candidates vying for seats on Washington Township Board

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Five Republicans are vying for nominations for three spots on the Washington Township Board in the May 3 primary. One Democrat, Shelly Brown, also is running but is uncontested in the primary. Republican candidates are Rich Hardcastle, Danyele Easterhaus, Jim Ake, Charles Driver and Erica Strahm. 

Name: Richard (Rich) J. Hardcastle, Jr.

Age: 55

Education: Bachelor’s degree in history at Indiana State University, 1988. Master of Public Administration, Indiana State University, 1992. Master of Science, History, Indiana State University, 1993.

Occupation: Customer care specialist, The Hartford Insurance. I also preach at churches in Delphi, Normal and Gadsden.

City of residence: Westfield

Immediate family: Spouse, Sheila, daughter, Snezhana

Previous political experience: I am currently a precinct committeeman in Hamilton County, and I was a candidate for Washington Township Board in 2018. I was active in Republican Politics in Vigo County, serving as a precinct committeeman and was twice elected as a delegate to the Republican State Convention. I also ran for county coroner, county recorder and Harrison Township Trustee when I resided in Vigo County.

Why do you want to run for office?

I hope to serve my community more. I am running to offer my services and contributions.

What are your qualifications for this office?

With my public administration background, my work history with West Central Indiana Economic Development District, some government service with the VAMC in Marion, experience as president pro-tempore of the ISU Student Senate, university committee memberships, I present a mixture of education, experience and skills dealing with the public that can make me effective on the Washington Township Board. I also served as Budget Committee chair while in the ISU Student Senate.

What are the top three issues that your campaign will focus on?

I want to protect the interests of taxpayers. I promise to oppose all tax increases during my tenure on the Washington Township Board. I also want to make the Westfield Washington Township area safe and affordable for people of all ages, incomes and walks of life. 

What sets you apart from other candidates for this office?

I have a degree in public administration, which qualifies me as a person who can read a budget.

How long have you lived in your district?

12 years.

What other organizations are you involved with?

I am a member of the Gadsden Church of Christ, where I have served as a deacon. I also teach Bible classes, take my turn preaching, and I also am one of the song leaders.

Something most people don’t know about you?

That my wife and I adopted our daughter from Ukraine. We have been there, spending five to six weeks living in an apartment just a few miles from the Russian border. We know a lot of wonderful people over there, and our hearts break over the plight they are in.

Something you want people to know about you?

That I really care about what happens to our community, and I want to make it better. I am not as well-known as some of the other candidates, but I am ready to do what improves life here.

Website or best way for voters to reach you?

I can be reached on Facebook at Rich Hardcastle for Washington Township Board, by telephone at 317-896-9170, or by e-mail at richforwashtwpboard@gmail.com.

Name: Danyele Easterhaus

Age: 52

Education: Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Industrial Technology, Ball State University, 1991

Occupation: Executive Director of Student Impact of Westfield

City of residence: Westfield

Immediate family: Husband of 22 years, Ryan; four daughters. Dad, Dan, lives in the home with us.

Previous political experience: Elected in August 2018 Westfield Washington Township Board

Why do you want to run for office?

I love Westfield and want to make a difference for the voters by remaining fiscally responsible and being attentive to the real life needs in the Township.

What are your qualifications for this office?

I am serving my fourth year as a township board member. My understanding of the budget, the financial systems, and the governing laws in which the township operate is solid. I have served as the board president as well. My outside business expertise is helpful in understanding many of the details of finance. 

What are the top three issues that your campaign will focus on?

The township is uniquely responsible for fire protection, providing community assistance, and parks and recreation, and these are the items where I will remain focused.

What sets you apart from other candidates for this office?

My time in the business world has provided me with management of multi-million dollar projects, maintaining budgets and creating and following financial directives, as well as the leadership of people. My time as an executive director has given me the place to hear from families of all types in Westfield, and the ability to bring others to the township for needs or assistance they may have.

How long have you lived in your district?

Since 1995.

What other organizations are you involved with?

I am an active board member of Women of Westfield and continues community involvement by participating in local programs and organizations such as the Westfield Police Academy, Hamilton County Leadership Academy, Westfield Chamber of Commerce, Westfield Welcome and also by serving as a student Bible study leader.  

Something most people don’t know about you?

My Dad and I had a clown ministry in the 1970s. I was Giggles the Clown and he was Crackles.

Something you want people to know about you?

I have a deep desire to gather information and evaluate all the details prior to making any decisions.

Website or best way for voters to reach you?

facebook.com/Danyele4TownshipBoard

Ake

Name: Jim Ake

Age: 71

Occupation: Self employed

City of Residence: Westfield

Immediate Family: Wife, Mary

Previous political experience: I was elected to Westfield City Council serving as president and vice president of that body. I am actively participating in the Hamilton County Republican Party Organization. I have volunteered and campaigned for Republican Candidates at all levels of local, state and national offices. Locally I serve and have served on numerous boards and committees in our community in an executive capacity. I am a precinct committeeman and served as a State Convention Delegate.

Why do you want to run for office?

I am passionate about service, doing good and leaving things better than they were. My goal is to listen to and serve you. I am dedicated to bringing people together, to work together, to share limited resources together and to join hands in building an inclusive Washington Township community for all ages.

What are your qualifications for this office?

I held leadership positions in sales, marketing, team development and city government. Responsibilities included running a district, a region and a company as director with successful results. I bought a failing franchise taking it to No. 1. With community service, volunteer endeavors and council work, I was given the first Legacy Award for a Lifetime of Achievement by Westfield’s Chamber of Commerce. My depth of knowledge, creativity and experiences has prepared me for this office.

What are the top three issues that your campaign will focus on?

  1. The township is fiscally sound. I will continue to make sure we are fiscally responsible going forward mindful of what our township needs while caring for what we have.
  2. Protection of all citizens is a high priority. Delivering essential services efficiently needs a coordinated and co-operative effort with other agencies. I will be proactive in these efforts.
  3. Help advocate with the trustee positive projects which will better our community.

What sets you apart from other candidates for his office?

My success in running and managing business units, my city governmental experience and running my own businesses gives me the ability to contribute to this position and deliver positive results for residents. My connections throughout Hamilton County and the Statehouse are another asset and resource at my disposal. I am familiar with fire operations and am a Community Emergency Response Team member. I am prepared to serve you well.

How long have you lived in your district:

22 years

What other organizations are you involved with?

St Luke’s Church, Grand Universe Senior Adviser, Westfield Board of Public Works, Rotary Club of Westfield and Foundation Chairman, Westfield Chamber of Commerce, President Westfield Economic Development Corporation for five years, Westfield Playhouse sponsor, GOP Club, former WeCan Facilitator, Grand Junction Task Group, Spring Mill Task Group, former Centennial HOA President, Trash Committee Chairman bringing universal trash collection to Westfield, Westfield Police Academy, CERT and volunteer at Grand Park.

Something most people don’t know about you?

I was certified as a scuba diver at age 12. That was the earliest age you could apply. I also was a snow ski instructor. 

Something you want people to know about you? I personally have raised substantial amounts of money for nonprofits in this community benefitting many of us. Benefactors include WYA, Boy Scouts, Student Impact, our schools, our playhouse and others. In 2008, I rallied Westfield to respond to a “Be Fire Safe” national campaign. We won $25,000 for our Westfield Fire Dept. As a result of my efforts, I was the first civilian to win the “Helping Our Team” award from them.

Name: Charles (Charlie) Driver

Age: 56

Education: B.S. in Law Enforcement Management

Occupation: Retired 30-year law enforcement. Currently serve as a corporate legal investigator for a large health care organization. I conduct investigations into fraud, drug diversion, risk management issues and allegations of professional misconduct.

City of residence: Westfield

Immediate family: Wife, Andrea, daughters Cheryl and Cassandra, son, Dylan. 

Previous political experience: The only elected office I have held is two terms as the president of the Carmel Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 185. I did not seek a third term. Also started a scholarship program and coordinated fundraising for charitable contributions to sponsor youth sports and educational programs as well as larger community groups such as Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County and Prevail. 

Why do you want to run for office?

I would like to become more involved in our local government to ensure we maintain a quality of life that our community deserves and expects. It is often tempting for politicians to see a “shiny object” and pursue an expensive project that may not necessarily be fiscally responsible or in the best interest of the community at large. With the state of today’s political and economic situation, local governments are having to do more with fewer available resources. 

What are your qualifications for this office?

I have 30 years of public service experience with a strong leadership background. I have a wide range of experience in crisis management, short and long-term planning, investigation, budgeting, and fulfilling goals within budgetary constraints. I have skills necessary to work with various governmental bodies, businesses, and community groups to discuss areas of concerns, and work collaboratively to achieve mutual understanding and find solutions to any conflicts which may arise.

What are the top three issues that your campaign will focus on?

  1. Maintaining and improving public safety by ensuring our police, fire, and emergency medical services have more than adequate staffing, equipment and training to do their jobs effectively.
  1. Ensuring a fiscally conservative approach to effectively manage available financial resources and ensure the money is spent in a responsible manner and in the best interest of the taxpayers.
  2. Work with state programs and local internet providers to bring more reliable internet service to rural areas.

What sets you apart from other candidates for this office?

I have a strong background in public service and know how to network and cultivate strong working relationships. I’m not afraid to pick up the phone and call someone to ask questions or obtain information necessary to do my job. I am also good at connecting other people. I am also a skilled fact gatherer and able to dig deeply into an issue and objectively evaluate the information and come to a sensible conclusion.

How long have you lived in your district?

Approximately 20 years.

What other organizations are you involved with?

None right now. I spent several years working with the Westfield Youth Sports programs when my kids were involved. I stepped back as my kids moved up into school sports. 

Something most people don’t know about you?

I hiked all the way across the Grand Canyon in one day last fall at age 55. Planning on doing it again this year, but twice in one day.

Something you want people to know about you?

What you see is what you get. I’m a pretty easygoing person with a common-sense approach to things. I’ll admit when I’m wrong, but when I’m right, I’m right. If you don’t want to hear the answer, don’t ask me the question. I’ll tell it like it is, the good, the bad and the ugly. I will always stand up for what is legally and ethically right and in the best interest of the community.

Website or best way for voters to reach you?

Cedjr@frontier.com or 317-716-6592.

Strahm

Name: Erica Strahm

Age: 48

Education: BA Indiana University-Bloomington

Occupation: Youth Coordinator/Adult Ally VOICE Indiana Hamilton County (VOICE is part of Breathe Easy Hamilton County and the Good Samaritan Network). I also teach Montessori preschool part-time in Westfield.

City of residence: Westfield

Immediate family: Children Will, Lucy, Sam and Charlie.

Previous political experience (please include any elected office sought): Current Chairman of the Westfield Washington Township Board, 2020 Indiana Republican Party State Delegate, Current Precinct Committeeman of Westfield 718 (Centennial 2).

Why do you want to run for office?

To continue to give taxpayers a voice in local government. Local government decisions most affect your wallet and your daily life.

What are your qualifications for this office?

I was elected to the Westfield Washington Township Board in 2018 and currently serve as its Chairman (President). I’m a fiscal conservative who has fought against increasing the township tax rate. Since joining the board in 2019, the township tax rate has not increased, and our taxing entity carries no debt. The current township board has accomplished this all while continuing to provide services to the citizens of our township through the township trustee and her staff.

What are the top 3 issues that your campaign will focus on?

Keeping township tax rates flat, updating Westfield Fire Station 82 (owned by the township), and continuing to have enough money to offer adequate Township Assistance (the primary goal of townships) to our taxpayers.

What sets you apart from other candidates for this office?

I’m currently serving in the role.

How long have you lived in your district?

23 years.

What other organizations are you involved with?

I’m a Philanthropy Liaison for National Charity League, an Inaugural Member of Westfield Washington Schools Shamrock Academy, a Member of the Westfield GOP Club, President of the Westfield Shamrocks Rugby Club, a member of Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, and the current Precinct Committeeman for Westfield 718 (which is the Centennial 2 voting precinct).

Something most people don’t know about you?

I’m a part owner of three scallop fishing boats out of New Bedford, Mass. It’s a family business started by my younger brother. After my husband passed away in 2013, I decided to invest for my future and for that of my children.

Something you want people to know about you?

I’m a reluctant politician. I ran for office because I saw a need for better representation for the taxpayers and citizens of Westfield Washington Township. I don’t want to make politics a career. I want to serve as long as I feel I’m needed, then I’ll gladly hand over my position to the next crop of public servants. Just as the Founding Fathers did, I believe that being an elected official should be a pit stop, not a career or lifestyle. My decisions are based solely on what is best for the taxpayers and citizens of Westfield Washington Township.

Website or best way for voters to reach you?

317-753-2780 (cell); Erica Strahm, Washington Township Board (Facebook); erica@wwtownship.us (township email); ericastrahm@icloud.com (personal email).

 

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