PERU — Cass County Councilwoman Stacey Donato was elected by a special caucus Monday night to fill the seat left vacant by Indiana Sen. Randy Head, who resigned last month to become chief deputy prosecutor for Pulaski County.
The Indiana Republican Party held the caucus at the Miami County Fairgrounds to replace the District 18 seat left empty by Head. District 18 serves Miami, Cass and Fulton counties, and portions of Carroll, Kosciusko and Marshall counties.
Donato faced off against five other candidates for the senate seat. All the candidates were given 3 minutes to make their case to the 82 volunteer precinct committee members that make up District 18.
During her speech, Donato said she would focus on fighting substance abuse and funding related to education.
Head endorsed Donato for his former senate seat, and spoke briefly to the caucus before voting started.
“Stacey has the right combination of experience in business, government and the community to be a fantastic legislator that we want and we expect and that we need,” he said. “She’s not going to sit at home. She’s going to be in your counties.”
Donato was selected after precinct committee members cast secret ballots, which were tallied by two tellers designated by the GOP state chairman. Each candidate designated one person to serve as a watcher on the candidate’s behalf during the count.
Candidates had to receive 50%, plus one vote, to win. If no candidate received a majority vote on the first ballot, the person with the lowest number of votes dropped out, and the process continued until a candidate received the required majority vote.
That took five rounds of voting and nearly 90 minutes on Monday evening.
By the fifth round, Donato faced off against Flora Town Councilman Jake Adams and former Miami County Sheriff Tim Miller. She ended up winning the final ballot with 42 votes.
Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer congratulated Donato on her victory following the final tally.
“With the experience and background Stacey Donato brings, I know she will continue former Senator Head’s tradition of fiscal responsibility and bold leadership on important issues impacting Hoosiers in the district,” he said in a statement.
Donato will now complete Head’s term, which runs until the November 2020 election.