Residents will have only one contested race in Howard County to vote in during this year’s primary election, which will be dominated by the closely watched and contentious presidential race.
Filing for local races ended Friday, revealing the final primary ballot to voters.
Out of the nine county races on the ballot, the only one that voters will have a say in is the at-large county council seats. The ballot has six Republican candidates running for the three available seats. Voters can cast a ballot for three of the candidates during the primary.
Those candidates are current Council President Jim Papacek, current Auditor Martha Lake, local Realtor Gena Martin, Kokomo residents Daryl Maple and Thomas Trine.
Jeff Stout, the beloved councilman who passed away Friday after succumbing to complications from a massive stroke, also filed for the seat before his death. The Howard County Election Board will vote later this month on removing his name from the ballot.
Republican incumbents seeking reelection in uncontested races are District 3 Commissioner Brad Bray; Coroner Steven Seele; Howard Superior Court 3 Judge Doug Tate; and Surveyor Dave Duncan.
Republican District 2 Commissioner Jack Dodd, who was appointed by caucus last month to replace Tyler Moore after he was elected Kokomo mayor, is also uncontested on the primary ballot.
Incumbent Circuit Court Judge Lynn Murry is also uncontested, and the only local Democrat on the ballot.
Other uncontested races include Jessica Secrease, a Republican who currently works as first deputy in the auditor’s finance office and is running for county auditor.
Christie Branch, a supervising deputy in the Howard County Treasurer’s office, is running unopposed as a Republican for treasurer. She announced her candidacy in December the same day her boss, Wes Reed, was revealed as Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore’s pick for city controller.
The primary ballot will also have precinct committeemen for the Republican Party and state delegates for both parties.
Howard County Clerk Debbie Stewart said although there’s only one local contested primary race this year, that’s to be expected during a U.S. presidential election. During the 2016 primary, only the at-large council seats and coroner were contested races.
“As far as local races, this isn’t out of the ordinary,” she said. “In the presidential races, you’re main focus is going to be your federal races in the primaries. Those are the ones that are generally contested.”