Asher filing for Sheriff

Howard County Sheriff's Dept. Capt. Jerry Asher files his candidacy for sheriff shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday in the clerk's office. Chief Deputy Clerk Debbie Stewart, who is running for Howard County clerk, files the paperwork. Tim Bath | Kokomo Tribune

A handful of Howard County officials filed their candidacies for the 2018 election Wednesday, wasting no time on the first day declarations of candidacy were accepted at clerks’ offices across Indiana.

Howard County Sheriff’s Dept. Capt. Jerry Asher appeared at the local clerk’s office shortly after the courthouse opened at 8 a.m., filing his paperwork to replace Sheriff Steve Rogers, who is prohibited by state law from running for a third term but is managing Asher’s campaign.

“I looked forward to, right after [Rogers] won his last election, kind of step into that role. …I just want to continue to keep up the good work we’ve done,” said Asher in a previous interview.

Asher filed his candidacy with Howard County Chief Deputy Clerk Debbie Stewart, who submitted her own paperwork Wednesday morning to run for the office currently occupied by Clerk Kim Wilson. Wilson, like Rogers, is term-limited and cannot run for re-election.

Two incumbents, Howard County Councilman John Roberts, R-1st District, and Republican Assessor Mindy Heady, also filed on Wednesday. The filing deadline for candidates is Feb. 9

The 2018 election – primary Election Day is May 8 – is likely to include a number of closely-followed Howard County races.

Also on the ballot will be races for Howard County prosecutor; Superior Court 2 judge; Superior Court 4 judge; a Board of Commissioners seat; four county council districts, including Roberts’ seat; assessor; recorder; and a variety of Greentown and township positions.

Republican Howard County Prosecutor Mark McCann announced in December his candidacy for re-election as the county’s prosecuting attorney. McCann was elected to the position in 2010 and is seeking his third term as prosecutor. He served as the county’s chief deputy prosecutor for 16 years.

A statement announcing McCann’s candidacy expressed his focus “not only on crimes against persons, but on ensuring the safety of our children from being abused or becoming the targets of sexual predators” and his intention to “never lose sight of our duty to protect the most vulnerable people in our county, including the elderly, youth and targets of bias, bullying or domestic violence.”

Additionally, Superior Court 4 Judge George Hopkins has announced his decision to retire at the end of 2018, leaving his seat up for grabs.

Howard County voters will also see a collection of high-impact federal and state races on their ballots. Those include Democrat Joe Donnelly’s U.S. Senate seat and the House of Representatives seats for Indiana’s 4th and 5th districts, held, respectively, by Republican U.S. Reps. Todd Rokita and Susan Brooks.

The Senate race has garnered the most attention so far in Indiana. One Republican currently mired in a competitive race for the right to run against Donnelly is Rokita, who represents Kokomo in the state’s 4th Congressional district. The 5th district includes eastern Howard County.   

One candidate running for the 4th district seat is Steve Braun, a former Indiana lawmaker and Department of Workforce Development head.

Braun was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 2012, serving one term before he was named commissioner of the DWD by then-Gov. Mike Pence. Braun resigned from the position in late August to pursue the Congressional seat that is being vacated by Rokita as he runs for U.S. Senate.

Running against Braun, among others, is Republican Diego Morales, a U.S. Army veteran and former aide to Mike Pence during his time as Indiana's governor. Federal Election Commission returns from 2017's third quarter show Morales out-fundraising Braun $208,159 to $165,125.

Also on the ballot will be races for Indiana’s secretary of state, auditor and treasurer. Local Statehouse races will include Senate District 21, held by Jim Buck; House District 30, occupied by Mike Karickhoff; House District 32, held by Tony Cook; and House District 38, held by Heath VanNatter.

Cook and Karickhoff have both filed for re-election.

This story has been updated to more accurately reflect fundraising totals in the race for Indiana's 4th Congressional district.   

George Myers can be reached at 765-454-8585, by email at george.myers@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @gpmyerskt.

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George Myers covers city and county government. He joined the Kokomo Tribune on November 18, 2014.