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And Justin Kuhnle is best of the Democrats.
Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd District, is a bright and effective public servant who represents well both the conservative cause and his constituents in northeast Indiana. Primary challengers of even ordinary incumbents have a tough case to make that an officeholder should be replaced, so opponents in this race would have to make an extraordinary case.
Stutzman’s two opponents don’t. He is challenged by Mark Barringer, whose main concern is that Social Security be protected, and James Mahoney III, whose main interests are unemployment and help for those who are disabled. It’s an easy call to make that Stutzman should go on to the fall election to face one of three Democrats.
Those seeking to run against Stutzman are Justin Kuhnle, Jim Redmond and Tommy Schrader.
Kuhnle is the best of the trio. A case manager from Kendallville who works with Medicaid waivers, he is knowledgeable across a wide range of issues and more thoughtful than ideological. He sees a lot of problems with Obamacare, for example, but also sees potential in it, and he would endorse some health care changes Republicans have liked, such as tort reform.
Redmond, from Auburn, is a more predictable progressive. He thinks the government debt has to be brought under control, but he also talks a lot about what more government should be doing. Schrader’s main claim to fame was being challenged by his own party when he sought a Democratic at-large nomination for Fort Wayne City Council.
Two more easy ones
There are two county contests in the GOP primary that don’t require a lot of deep thought:
County assessor. That’s one of those technical offices that should be appointive instead of being on the ballot. Because of its technical nature, there are no philosophical issues to tackle, so competence and efficiency are the only things to consider.
As long as the incumbent is doing a good job, there is no reason to put in somebody new, but there are plenty of reasons not to. Incumbent Stacy O’Day has years of experience, exhaustive knowledge of the job’s requirements and a good track record. She knows the job and does it.
She is challenged by Kimberly Klerner, who used to work in the office and would work to make it more taxpayer friendly.
Democrat Sam Walker is unopposed.
County Council District 1. To say incumbent Councilman Kevin Howell has token opposition would be an overstatement. He is challenged by Joe Renner, who mostly campaigns to get fluoride removed from the municipal water supply.
Democrat Sharon Tucker is unopposed.