Two members of Logansport's City Council — one a lifelong Democrat, the other a lifelong Republican — are teaming up to challenge incumbent Democratic mayor Dave Kitchell in this year's general election.
On Saturday, councilman at-large Terry Doran announced that he will run as an independent candidate for mayor, joining Republican Chris Martin in challenging Kitchell.
Doran’s running mate is Ward 5 councilwoman Teresa Popejoy — the only Republican in an otherwise Democratic administration. Popejoy has served on City Council since 2012, including serving as the Finance Committee chair for the entire duration and as council president from January 2016 to January 2019.
Doran also announced that his campaign's chairperson will be former mayor and Eel Township trustee Mike Fincher. Fincher served two terms as mayor and one as Eel Township trustee, losing his reelection bid by just 26 votes to Republican Mark Strong in 2018. He is also a former street commissioner, director of the Cass County Solid Waste Management District and City Council member.
Doran's treasurer will be current Clerk Treasurer Stacy Cox, who is not seeking reelection.
Doran, a lifelong resident of Logansport, said he has the knowledge as a taxpayer and government official to be "Better for Logansport.”
“I think we can run a cleaner operation, present a more positive message and I think we can get more done if we stay focused on the things that are important,” Doran said.
Doran possesses local government experience that dates back more than a decade. He has spent time as a volunteer and member of the Logansport Parks and Recreation Board, where he later served as president. He was the president of the city’s parks foundation as well, through which he worked with community leaders to create the 86-acre Huston Park on Logansport’s north side. He was elected to City Council in 2015 and serves on its Finance, Planning and Zoning Committees.
In 2018, Doran lost a bid for the Indiana House of Representatives to Republican Ethan Manning.
Doran said his reason for running for mayor is simple: “I love it here, and I believe we can do much better.”
Popejoy describes herself as a proud grandmother and lifetime Berry. She has already announced that she will retire in early 2020 as finance supervisor for the Logansport Community School Corporation, where she has worked since 1974.
Popejoy has ample experience working with colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
“It’s not always about being Democrats and Republicans,” Popejoy said. “We are working together for the City of Logansport — that means we can have conversations, we can disagree, we can compromise — but at the end of the day, we all walk out and we’re friends and colleagues working together for this city.”
Doran and Popejoy describe their Democrat-Republican partnership with the motto “No party politics.”
In the 2015 general election, Doran garnered the second-highest number of votes among City Council contenders with 1,713. Kevin Burkett received 1,725 votes but later resigned his council seat to avoid a conflict of interest when he accepted the position of editor at the Pharos-Tribune. Both ran for council at-large, as did Martin, who placed third with 1,231 votes, and incumbent independent candidate Charlie Hastings, who received 885 votes. The top two vote getters in that race won seats on the council.
Kitchell received the most votes of any candidate in 2015 with 1,835, beating Republican incumbent mayor Ted Franklin, who tallied 1,148 votes.
Popejoy won reelection over Democrat Carl McPherson 375-285 in 2015, becoming the only incumbent to retain a seat in local government.
No independent candidate has won election as mayor of Logansport in the modern era. There have been 10 registered republican and eight registered democratic mayors, according to staff research.
If elected mayor, Doran said he will seek to create an atmosphere of mutual respect between the city and county, the mayor’s office and all departments regardless of political party.
“We shouldn’t have conflict between all of the different departments and entities,” Doran said. “It starts there — you have to get along with people. I’ll start with a clean slate, treat everyone like adults in the room and show them the respect they deserve. I hope they give us the same consideration.”
Doran believes the city won't have a successful relationship with the county as long as the threat of a lawsuit exists — eluding to the long battle over whether the city or county has the responsibility to maintain the Memorial Home, which has led to a number of court actions.
“Threatening legal action as a first instead of a last resort has led to an adversarial environment,” Doran said. “If the city and county are going to build a stronger partnership, the foundation must be made with mutual trust and respect.”
Doran did note that relationships between entities have been improving. He said the hiring of Next Era Energy and the Logansport Municipal Utilities Service Board’s acceptance of input from City Council is proof that both entities are willing to work together for the betterment of the city.
In response to the city’s housing shortfalls, Doran said he’d concentrate on middle- and lower-income housing.
“We need to concentrate on middle-income housing to attract and keep good doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professionals,” Doran said. “But we also need to address the lower end of our housing issue. I will look for public and private partnerships, grants, anything we can find to help life these folks up.”
As for the Memorial Home, Doran said he plans to take a comprehensive approach to addressing its issues.
“I believe this building is a wonderful part of our city’s history,” said Doran. “I will be looking at all of the current proposals as well as any other option that comes before me. Any solution to the long-term success of the Memorial Home has to involve the city, the county and the community.”
Doran plans to take the same approach regarding the growth of Logansport’s downtown.
“Our downtown is our whole town — we’ve made some really nice improvements over the years,” Doran said. “The mayor is the quarterback of that but it’s also Arin [Shaver] in the Planning Department and many others who work to comprehensively develop our downtown in a way that makes sense for the community.”
Doran said he intends to reexamine plans for downtown as well as the State Theatre to further the growth of art and music in the community.
“I think we all agree that the success of our downtown is vital to our future,” said Doran. “Other communities continue to revitalize their downtowns, making them destination points. I believe our downtown is primed for that same type of success.”
Doran stressed the importance of education and said he aims to expand the city’s internship program to include the whole county if elected. One such program is in LaPorte, where every graduating senior who intends to continue their education is rewarded a scholarship in exchange for community service.
“It literally brings dozens if not hundreds of graduates back to the city to help with projects,” Doran said. “Not only does it lessen the burden on departments, it gives the city an opportunity to possible hire and brings skilled and educated youth back home.”
Doran said his message to the younger generation is that “You can live safer, you can live cheaper, and you can do just as well in a city this size without leaving.”
“We can get past a lot of our problems by just doing the right thing,” Doran said. “We’ve been doing okay, but is okay good enough? I don’t think it is.”
The general election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Reach Quentin Blount at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5130.