By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS  – It would be trite to say the 2019 municipal elections were status quo, not with 17 defeated incumbents. But there are solid trendlines: Democrats dominated in the big cities, coasting to wins in Indianapolis by Joe Hogsett and Fort Wayne by Tom Henry and picking up council seats in Evansville without a credible mayoral nominee.

Republicans did extremely well in the auto belt, picking up Kokomo, Logansport and Muncie. It helped them forge a historic 70-seat night, which underscores how the Republicans are dominating in the prairies (they hold 80% of county commissioner seats), while Democrats are holding onto the big cities and college towns.

The suburban areas continue to take a purple hue, with Democrats making gains with Emily Styron upsetting Mayor Tim Haak in once-ruby red Zionsville, along with two council seats in Carmel and Fishers. This comes a year after gay Democrat Sen. J.D. Ford won his suburban Indianapolis and Carmel seat. Democrats also picked up two suburban Louisville mayor races in Scottsburg and Charlestown, while Democrat New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan beat back a credible challenge from Mark Seabrook. And Sue Lynch returned to the mayor’s office in Portage, turning back Mayor John Cannon, who was voted by caucus to succeed the convicted Republican James Snyder.

On the gender front, in addition to Portage’s Lynch and Zionsville’s Styron, Democrat Treva Hodges won an upset in Charlestown, but otherwise, the 2019 mayoral field was dominated by white men.

If you’re a a proponent of good government, Lynch’s victory wasn’t the only one where voters decided to switch parties due to the taint of scandal. Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer was upset by Republican Duane Parry just days after the incumbent was indicted on multiple felony charges after the drug arrest of his stepson and the ensuing turmoil in the police department. Parry won by just 76 votes in a race many believed was Meer’s to lose until the arrests and indictment. Muncie Councilman Dan Ridenour easily won in a city where the Democratic administration of Mayor Dennis Tyler endured multiple FBI investigations.

Another change-of-the-guard election took place in Kokomo where three-term Democratic Mayor Greg Goodnight decided not to seek reelection. Howard County Commissioner Tyler Moore won in a resounding landslide as the GOP swept the entire city council.

The historic wins included Fort Wayne Mayor Henry’s landslide victory over Republican Tim Smith, giving him an unprecedented fourth term, while Republican Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett fended off a spirited challenge from independent Pat Goodwin. That came in tandem with Vigo County voters approving the casino referendum, allowing one of the Gary gaming sites to move south. Bennett had been a leading proponent of that initiative.

Other legacy mayors include Carmel Republican Mayor Jim Brainard embarking on a seventh term; Hammond’s Thomas McDermott Jr., a fifth consecutive term; Lafayette Democrat Mayor Tony Roswarski forging a fifth term; West Lafayette Republican Mayor John Dennis winning a fourth; Plymouth Mayor Mark Senter with a fourth; Crown Point’s David Uran winning his fourth. Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke easily won a third term with no credible opposition, as did East Chicago’s Democrat Mayor Anthony Copeland, and Frankfort Republican Mayor Chris McBarnes.

Headed for second terms are Bloomington’s Democrat Mayor John Hamilton, Columbus Republican Mayor Jim Lienhoop, Lebanon Republican Mayor Matt Gentry, Rochester GOP Mayor Ted Denton, Fishers Republican Mayor Scott Fadness, Goshen Republican Mayor Jeremy Stutsman, and Richmond Democrat Mayor Dave Snow. Only Denton had a credible opponent in this group.

In Democratic strongholds that were uncontested on Tuesday, Jerome Prince won a first term after defeating Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson last May, and James Mueller easily won in South Bend to follow presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. In Republican strongholds, Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallamer and Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard return.

First term Democrats Dave Kitchell and Gabe Greer lost in Logansport and Peru.

“It was a historic night for Republicans throughout Indiana as voters in city after city elected Republican mayors,” said Indiana GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer. “Never in the history of Indiana have Republicans held this many mayoral offices or had this wide a margin over Democrats.”

Hupfer said that the party invested time, talent and significant resources in races throughout the state. This coordination and teamwork led to an unprecedented flip of 19 mayoral offices in cities across the state. The trend carried throughout the state. Terre Haute, Lawrence, Jeffersonville, Logansport, Winchester, Bluffton, Hartford City and Greensburg all elected Republican mayors, just to name a few.

Indiana Democratic Chairman John Zody said, “We elected the first African American mayor in Elkhart. We elected a record number of Hoosier Democratic female mayors. We elected the first female mayor in Zionsville and won seats in Hamilton County for the first time ever. We won a majority on the council in Mike Pence’s hometown. We won a commanding council majority and reelected the mayor by a landslide in Indianapolis. We reelected the mayor of Fort Wayne and picked up two at-large city council seats. We elected mothers. We elected Young Dems. We elected union members. We won in the suburbs and in rural cities.”

Here is a race-by-race rundown:

Fort Wayne: Henry’s biggest victory

Republicans believed they had a shot at Tim Smith upsetting Mayor Henry, with Gov. Eric Holcomb campaigning there last weekend. But Henry forged a 61.2% to 38.7% landslide, which was his biggest percentage win. According to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Henry earned 56.8% in 2015; 49.85% in 2011; and 60% in 2007. “I realize that this particular campaign was very aggressive and very strong and at times contentious,” Henry said. “But I will not say anything against candidate Smith. He had the courage to step up and run for an office. Not everyone can do that.”  Henry was joined in victory by four Democrats who were elected or reelected to the Fort Wayne City Council – Geoff Paddock, Sharon Tucker, Michelle Chambers and Glynn Hines.

Michigan City: 1st GOP mayor in 44 years

For the first time in 44 years, Michigan City has elected a Republican mayor. Duane Parry unseated incumbent Mayor Ron Meer in Tuesday’s election by just 76 votes (Mayes, Michigan City News-Dispatch). “It’s long overdue,” Parry said Tuesday while doing a victory lap at American Legion Skwiat Post 451. “Michigan City has been struggling for years. And I hope that someday the public will look back on my time as mayor as the reformation of Michigan City, when we brought the town back.” Parry said the major focus going into his term as mayor will be to reprioritize riverboat fund spending, and to focus more on the city’s residents than has been done in the past. “I’m going to light Michigan City up,” he said. “The Westside, the Eastside, the neighborhoods that need help are going to get it.” Parry said he anticipates he’ll have to “walk in cold” without much help transitioning from the current mayor. Meer said as much Tuesday night when he addressed the media from his headquarters at the old Elston Zip convenience store, noting the two have different styles. “I’d say we disagreed on a lot more than we ever agreed on,” he said of Parry, who was the 5th Ward representative to the Michigan City Common Council during Meer’s first term as mayor from 2012-2015.

Terre Haute: Bennett makes history

Republican Mayor Duke Bennett captured a historic fourth term in Tuesday’s Terre Haute municipal election, tying for the second longest-serving mayor in city history (Modesitt, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). With all 14 voting centers accounted for and 50 of 51 precincts counted as of 10 p.m., Bennett led independent candidate Pat Goodwin by 216 votes, or 5,178 votes for Bennett to 4,962 for Goodwin, according to unofficial totals from the Vigo County Clerk’s Office. Democrat candidate Karrum Nasser finished third with 2,142 votes. Bennett said he felt good about his standing in the race coming into the day, saying the feedback he was getting was largely positive. “You never really know what’s going to happen, even though we’ve been through this three times before, but I felt good coming into today,” Bennett said. “And then spending all day out at the precincts and watching the returns come in, I knew we were where we needed to be to have a chance.”

Muncie: Ridenour’s anti-corruption wave

Republican Councilman Ridenour received 7,120 votes to Democrat Terry Whitt Bailey’s 4,264 and Libertarian Steve Smith’s 199. Ridenour won 61% of the vote. “I’m thrilled that the voters of Muncie decided to make this change, changing style, changing opportunities,” Ridenour said during a Muncie Star-Press interview. The Muncie City Council will have a GOP majority for the first time in 40 years. His victory came after multiple FBI investigations of the administration of Mayor Dennis Tyler, who did not seek another term.

Elkhart: Dems return after one term

Democrat Rod Roberson, who served four terms as an at-large councilman, was voted the city’s first black mayor Tuesday (South Bend Tribune). Roberson defeated Republican and former Elkhart mayor David Miller with 56% of the vote. He garnered 3,599 votes to Miller’s 2,773. The two candidates were vying to replace Republican Tim Neese who chose not to run for a second term, coming after Democrat Mayor Dick Moore held the seat for three terms.

Indianapolis: Hogsett coasts

Mayor Joe Hogsett coasted to a second term with close to 70% over Republican State Sen. Jim Merritt. “This night is young, but I am not,” Hogsett said in his victory speech at the Athenaeum in the Basil Theater. “Tonight, we celebrate a victory that is sweet because, like this building, like this city, it is something we built ourselves. It is a monument to something that is uniquely ours, and my friends, we’re not done building yet.” Hogsett’s victory comes with a seismic shift on the City-County Council, with Democrats forging the first super majority in history after picking up at least five seats, and possibly six. The LGBTQ Victory Fund notes the Indianapolis City-County Council tripled its LGBTQ representation with the results of Tuesday’s election. Newly elected councilors Alison Brown and Keith Potts join Zach Adamson, who was reelected, as the openly LGBTQ represenatives on the City-County Council. Brown is the first LGBTQ woman elected to the council.

Kokomo: Moore, GOP landslide

Republican Tyler Moore took 68% of the vote to beat out Democrat Abbie Smith.  Republicans also swept the city council. “They’re expecting more from the mayor, they’re expecting more from the council, they’re expecting more from the city government, and we now have the opportunity to do that,” Moore said.  It returns the GOP to power after three terms of Mayor Greg Goodnight, who declined to seek a fourth term.

Charlestown: Hodges upsets Hall

Democrat newcomer Treva Hodges defeated 16-year incumbent Republican Mayor Bob Hall by a mere 30 votes Tuesday. “I felt like the atmosphere was there all along,” Hodges said (Schmelz, News & Tribune). “We had extremely positive engagement, whether on social media, door to door or even at the grocery store where we went.” Learning he fell short to Hodges – 1,324 to her 1,354 votes – surprised Hall. “I was shocked,” he said. “I thought it was going to be a close race, but I thought we would win by a comparable number.” “This election has been so contested and so intense and it has so much at stake,” Hodges said. “Some even had their homes at stake.”

Logansport: Martin upsets Kitchell

Republican Chris Martin upset first-term Mayor Dave Kitchell, winning by 57 votes. At 28 years old, Martin will become the youngest mayor in Logansport history.  Kitchell said he was disappointed in the media coverage of the mayoral race and by the lack of turnout among local Democrats. “I don’t think we had a single story about a lot of our accomplishments,” he said. “It’s hard to run well when we don’t have people covering the stories coming out of our meetings.” Kitchell said that a 23.8% total turnout wasn’t going to carry the day when Democrats don’t have the majority of voters registered in Logansport. “I think there was this perception that we had this in the bag; we had it won, we didn’t have anything to worry about,” he said. “We had Republicans that crossed over to vote for us but we just had a lot of people that stayed home, especially the independent voters that figured it was a foregone conclusion.”

New Albany: Mayor Gahan prevails

New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan held on to his office (WAVE-TV). Gahan, a Democrat, defeated Republican challenger Mark Seabrook, with 55% of the vote. Seabrook claimed 40%, while independent Dan Coffey picked up 5% of the votes.

Jeffersonville:  Moore wins third term

Mayor Mike Moore won his third term in convincing fashion, with his 8,331 votes dwarfing the 3,701 picked up by Democratic challenger Tom Galligan. “Jeffersonville is still 54% Democrat,” Moore said. “I take a lot of pride in knowing a large number of Democrats voted for us. I think that’s because we’ve never let party affiliation factor into decisions that are made for the city.” When he faced off against Galligan in 2011, Moore won by a margin of six percentage points. In 2015, that figure jumped to eight points.

Crown Point: Uran wins fourth term

David Uran will continue to serve the city of Crown Point as mayor for the next four years (Freda, NWI Times). Early numbers show Uran held 78% of the vote, while challenger Kristie Dressel had 22%.  Uran, who will head into his fourth term, thanked the voters for having confidence in the vision he and his team have for the city. “Tonight we’re seeing, especially in the mayor’s race, a final endorsement by the community for how Crown Point’s future is going to look,” Uran said to a room of family, friends and fellow officials.

Anderson: Broderick returns

Incumbent Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. won reelection Tuesday to a second term as mayor. Broderick becomes the first Anderson mayor to serve consecutive terms in office since Democrat J. Mark Lawler served four terms from 1988 through 2004, according to Herald-Bulletin reporter Ken de la Bastide. Broderick won with 55% over Republican Rick Gardner at 36%. “I’m appreciative of the hard work put in by the entire team and our supporters,” Broderick said. “I felt like we’ve done a lot of great things over the past four years and there is more work to be done. We will continue to move forward with our economic development and quality-of-life plans.”

Peru: Hewitt topples Greer

Miles Hewitt, a 38-year veteran of the Peru Police Department and political newcomer, soundly defeated two other candidates Tuesday to win the Republican bid for Peru mayor (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). Hewitt took nearly 60% of the vote during Tuesday’s primary election, with 750 residents casting ballots in the race. Wayne Bunker, a former Peru Community Schools board member who ran for mayor in 2015 as an independent, took 23% of the vote. David Makin, who ran for mayor eight years ago, won 17%. Hewitt will now face off against incumbent Democratic Mayor Gabe Greer in November’s general election. Greer is seeking his second term in office. Hewitt said Tuesday evening he was “elated” by his overwhelming victory against his two competitors.

Evansville: Third term for Winnecke

Voters gave Republican Mayor Lloyd Winnecke a singular victory Tuesday, reelecting him by a runaway margin over two little-known challengers but rejecting his determined effort to bring a GOP city council majority with him (Langhorne, Evansville Courier & Press). Democrats actually expanded their current tenuous majority on the council – four Democrats, three Republicans and two independents – to a more commanding 7-2 margin. The stunning setback came despite a considerable investment of campaign cash and services on behalf of GOP city council candidates by Winnecke and his chief deputy. “But we respect the decisions of the voters,” he said. “Had we not done anything on behalf of our slate of candidates, the defeats might have been even worse. We’re going to take it philosophically. I’m proud of the campaigns that everyone ran. It is what it is.”

Richmond: Snow gets second term

Democrat Mayor Dave Snow won a second term beating a challenge from Republican Jamie Lopeman and independent Thomas Owens. The incumbent received 49.5% of the vote, with Lopeman getting 44.5% and Owens 6%. The final margin was 192 votes (Truitt, Richmond Palladium-Item). “Once again this is a humbling experience. You know in my first campaign I asked the people of my hometown to have the faith in me to lead this city. We’ve set out on many projects and done a lot of work, and today is an affirmation of that work that’s been done. It’s just tremendously humbling,” Snow said. “I just want to thank my entire city team. I work with some of the most tremendous people that I could imagine working with. And really, truly thank the voters for coming out today and casting their vote with confidence.”

Zionsville: Styron pulls off a shocker

Democrat Emily Styron beat Zionsville’s first elected Mayor Tim Haak by 88 votes. “Over the past six months, this campaign has centered around exchanging ideas and opportunities for the town of Zionsville with as many residents and business owners we could reach,” Styron said Facebook. “Tonight, those conversations translated into votes. I am humbled and grateful for the confidence voters have placed in me and am excited to step forward and serve as our mayor.”

Westfield: Cook reelected

Westfield Mayor Andy Cook (R), the only mayor in Hamilton County to face a general election challenge, defeated Libertarian Donald Rainwater with 61% of the vote.

Boonville: Mayor Wyatt reelected

Incumbent Charlie Wyatt had little trouble retaining the Boonville mayor’s office Tuesday night, winning nearly 66% of the vote to beat out Republican challenger Leah Barnett (Evansville Courier & Press). It will be Wyatt’s second term as mayor. Wyatt, a Democrat and retired Alcoa steelworker, succeeded longtime mayor Pam Hendrickson in 2016. Hendrickson had held the office for 20 years prior.

Bedford: Craig wins open seat

Republican Sam Craig defeated Democrat Rowena Cross-Najafi 68.8 to 31% to replace retiring three-term independent Mayor Shawn Girgis.

Princeton: Wright wins first term

Republican Princeton Councilman Greg Wright is the new mayor-elect of Princeton, with a 1074-714 win over Democratic candidate Dan Beard. “I feel like it was a bunch of work and it paid off,” Wright said told the Princeton Daily Clarion. “I want to thank of course God for the opportunity, my wife Megan for backing me and putting up with my crazy ideas, and I want to thank Dan Beard for running a really clean and positive campaign.”

Scottsburg: Graham loses bid for 9th term

Indiana’s longest-serving mayor, Republican Bill Graham, lost his bid for a ninth term as mayor of Scottsburg to Democrat Terry Amick. He was one of 17 mayors defeated for reelection, joining three who lost in the primary.  Independents peeled off one mayoral seat from each party, with Richard Strick winning in Huntington and Bill Rock in Gas City. They’ll join reelected independent mayors Shane Evans in Delphi and Alan Weiss in Greendale. Independents came close to upsets in two other cities. Independents’ total of four mayor’s seats is a decline of one. Republicans had a net gain of six, while Democrats lost seven. A total of 29 city halls changed parties, including Mitchell, where Mayor J.D. England, elected as an independent in 2015, won reelection as a Republican.

South Bend: Mueller eyes Buttigieg legacy

James Mueller, who returned home from Washington in 2015 to serve as chief of staff for his high school classmate, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (pictured), will now take over from his friend as the city’s next chief executive (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). Mueller, 37, defeated Republican Sean Haas, a government teacher at LaVille High School, in Tuesday’s election.  Mueller held a commanding lead, with nearly 65% of the votes, with most of the ballots counted. Mueller will take office as South Bend’s new mayor in January. “The progress over the last eight years in our city is undeniable,” he told supporters celebrating at Corby’s Irish Pub Tuesday night. “Yet we still have a lot more work to do to take our growth to the next level and make sure everyone can share in our progress.” Some residents and observers saw the race as a referendum on Buttigieg. Mueller touted the achievements of the Buttigieg era, campaigning on a slogan to “Keep South Bend Moving Forward.”

Madison: Courtney wins full term

Madison Mayor Bob Courtney will technically be the city’s interim leader through Dec. 31, but Courtney has already gone to work in the office he will now hold for the next four years thanks to a Republican rout in Tuesday’s general election (Madison Courier). Courtney defeated Democratic challenger Julie Berry 2,284 to 1,488 to lead a sweep of all but one elected office in the city. Only incumbent Democratic Councilmember At-Large Daniel C. Dattilo avoided the GOP landslide by out-polling two Republicans and fellow Democratic incumbent David Alcorn to hang onto one of the seven council seats.

Auburn: Ley replaces Yoder

Republican Mike Ley won election as Auburn’s next mayor Tuesday, capturing 56% of the votes to outpace Democrat Sarah Payne (KPC News). In the other only other contested race for city office, Republican Wayne Madden won reelection to the District 1 seat on the Auburn Common Council.  Madden received 58% of the votes to hold off Democratic challenger Nora Schwartz. Ley, 62, will take office Jan. 1, replacing Norm Yoder, who is retiring after 20 years in the mayor’s chair.

Lawrenceburg: Mayor Mollaun reelected

Lawrenceburg Republican Mayor Kelly Mollaun was reelected with 54% of the vote. Democrat Aaron Cook followed with 39% and Independent Dylan Liddle received 7% of the vote (Eagle Country Online). “This goes to show you that the people of Lawrenceburg base their choices on action and not by words,” Mollaun said. “All the negativity that was coming out, the people spoke tonight.”

Sullivan: Lamb returns

Sullivan Democrat Mayor Clint Lamb defeated Republican Josh Smith 79-21%.

Lake Station: Carroll defeats Robbins

Bill Carroll believes Lake Station has a brighter future ahead, and he will be heavily involved in moving the city in that direction (NWI Times). Unofficial results show Carroll, a Democrat, easily defeated Republican Cynthia Robbins in Tuesday’s mayoral race. 

Aurora: Drury wins

In Aurora, Republican Mark Drury defeated Melvin Kramer Jr., to become the new mayor. Drury got 56% of the vote (Eagle Country Online).

Plymouth: Senter wins fourth term

Plymouth Republican Mayor Mark Senter handily won a fourth term, beating Democrat challenger Josh Walker by 85 votes in Tuesday’s general election (Plymouth Pilot-News). “I’m very happy with the way it went,” Senter said.“It was a very clean race overall. I want to congratulate Josh Walker for his race. I think there’s a future in Plymouth for him. He’s a nice young man. It’s hard to beat an incumbent when there is so much positivity in the city. He fought a great race.” The mayor previously said this will likely be his last term, but on Tuesday night said  he wouldn’t rule out another run for the city’s highest office.