ELECTION 2022: Incumbent commissioner defeated in primary, race set for fall


Two days after the primary election, Commissioner Diana Biddle was weighing her options and looking ahead to the remaining seven months of her term.


Biddle lost her bid for re-election to challenger Ronald Sanders on May 3. As of right now, Sanders will face off against Democratic candidate Stephanie Porter Kritzer this fall for the District 2 seat. Independent candidates can file to run for office this July.

The Brown County commissioners are a three-member board that acts as the county’s executive body, making and changing laws, dealing with roads and bridges, and setting various policies.

Biddle said she plans to serve the remainder of her term to “the best of my ability” as she battles health challenges.

“A very wise government teacher that I had in high school once told me that there was victory in defeat,” Biddle said.

“My passion for my whole life has been local government. I’ll still find ways to be involved. It will not be the last you see of me.”

Biddle served on the Jackson Township Advisory Board and county council before being elected commissioner. She also served on the boards of the Brown County Purdue Extension, Community Corrections and solid waste management. She is one of the co-founders of Mother’s Cupboard Community Kitchen. She is currently serving as the president of the Indiana Association of County Commissioners (IACC).

She was first elected as commissioner in 2014. If elected this primary election, she would have been the county’s first commissioner to serve three terms.

“I feel that local government is the level where you can have the most impact on peoples daily lives. I am positive. I am not going to say anything negative,” she said of her loss.

At the top of her list of accomplishments would be her involvement with the creation of the 2,000 seat Brown County Music Center that opened in 2019. She currently serves as the commissioner appointment to the venue’s management group.

“My role in that was figuring out how to combine local government with that type of project,” she said.

Biddle said she is also proud of her work in securing grants for community projects. One of the most recent grants she worked to secure was for a the second phase of a project to replace failing stormwater infrastructure in Helmsburg.

“Helmsburg is probably one of the earliest developed areas in Brown County because of the railroad. It was a compact community built over 100 years ago and that leads to problems when you’re not updating infrastructure,” she said.

Working to bring changes to the county’s public safety sector, including switching ambulance service to Indiana University Health Lifeline as a way to save the county money and installing a new 911 communications tower at the Overlook in Bean Blossom to ensure officers and firefighters have radio communication throughout the county, are other sources of pride for Biddle.

She still has projects on her list she wants to see completed by the end of her term, including building a new coroner’s office near the Brown County Law Enforcement. Coroner Earl Piper worked for Bond Mitchell Funeral Home, so he was able to use their offices for his coroner work, but since Piper is not seeking re-election the county has to find another space for the new coroner to work.

She also plans to help oversee a possible $4 million federal transportation grant to help improve flooding issues on State Road 45 at Helmsburg School Road. The commissioners recently allocated $100,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding to cover the designs of that project for the Indiana Department of Transportation to review before federal grant funding can be received.

“There is a lot of work for me to finish. I am not going to stop until the end of December,” she said.

Eight years ago, Biddle set a goal to pave 20 miles of county roads a year. The county applied for — and received — $1 million in grant funding almost each year through the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Community Crossings program to help pave roads here. Biddle said using money from the capital improvement loans the county takes out every two years also helped to pave roads.

“It has been the highlight of my life to be commissioner for the last two terms. I was raised by parents who thought community comes first,” Biddle said.

Her parents, Jack and Nina Jo McDonald, ran the family’s business McDonald’s Shopworth grocery store in Bean Blossom for decades after opening it in the early 1960s. Nina Jo was also heavily involved in politics, mentoring many politicians and officials during her time in the county.

“(My dad) didn’t care what the weather was he was going to be down at the grocery store and be open because someone might need something. That was the way I was raised,” she said.

“You do what you’ve got to do to get things done because someone may need something. My mom and I started Mother’s Cupboard because we didn’t want anyone to be hungry. We saw people in our grocery store, counting their money and counting the food in their cart, trying to figure out if enough money to buy food and prescriptions that month. That was impactful.”

When looking back at her time as commissioner, Biddle said the theme of her work has always been to keep Brown County moving forward by supporting development and expansion here.

“I will continue to do that whether I am a commissioner or not. I will continue to advocate for projects that keep Brown County moving forward,” she said.

“All in all I have no regrets. … I couldn’t have asked for a better eight years.”

Candidate for all


Sanders won the Republican nomination for the District 2 seat by earning 1,064 votes. Biddle received 845 and Republican John Kennard received 551 votes. This was not the first time the trio of candidates faced off in a primary election. The three also ran for commissioner on the Republican ballot in the 2018 primary election.

Sanders said that Tuesday was a long day, traveling around and speaking with community members outside of polling locations.

He said he had a good feeling going into Election Day after receiving a lot of feedback from the community.

With absentee ballots rounding out the count after 10 p.m., Sanders said he didn’t consider himself the winner until around 11 p.m.

His campaign slogan was “Ronald A. Sanders: A candidate for all the people.”

Top priorities for Sanders as detailed in advertisements are a “well-funded” sheriff department, wellness checks on the elderly and at-risk youth.

Sanders is opposed to TIF — tax increment financing — with one of his first advertisements stating “keep the tax dollars for the people who paid them.”

One of his main platforms was he wants to sell the Brown County Music Center, saying that “people are not happy with it.”

“Make millions on the sale and save millions on interest, put it on the tax roll and make millions more,” one of his ads states.

“Use money from the sale to fix roads and help fund the sheriff’s department and any other programs that need funding, pay on outstanding loans and save taxpayers’ money … We all have a stake in seeing Brown County succeed.”

Sanders has owned Quick Sale Auction Service Inc. since 2001, purchased Hot Rod Motor Sports Inc. in 2010 was the trustee of Jackson Township from 2006 to 2010. His wife Terry owns Creative Style Salon in Nashville.

His family has been in Brown County since the early 1960s.

He has held a real estate license, Level One assessor license, is a personal property certified appraiser and has been a licensed car dealer three times.

“I helped build a $1 million roofing company and have been around that kind of work all my life, still doing my own roofing,” one of his advertisements states.

His main concerns though are the roads and bridges in the county.

“I was at polling places and I drove on the roads,” he said. “Some of them are in pretty bad shape and they need addressed as quickly as they can.”

His goal for the general election in the fall is simple: to win.

He’ll do the same campaigning he has done before, going door-to-door and studying county processes.

“I just want to thank everybody that voted for me,” he said. “I’d like to see everybody get along and solve the problems. We all live here we need work together.”

Sanders will accept calls from community members who want to learn more about him and his campaign. His number is 812-988-8424.

Kennard came in third for the race for commissioner, but did not see the results until all was said and done.

When he’s not working at the Brown County Health Department, Kennard is a volleyball referee on the side.

He schedules games far in advance and happened to schedule one on May 3, not realizing it was Election Day. He called his wife after the game, who told him that he came in third.


“I was a little surprised, honestly,” he said.

Kennard said he figured he would have a leg-up in the race with name recognition, working for the health department and the fact he was running against Biddle.

“All three of us were kind of surprised, I think,” he said of the results.

Kennard said if he had more free time to campaign he would have done better.

“Ron and Diana did their homework,” he said.

The biggest message Kennard wanted to share with the community was that he’s disappointed, not with coming in third, but that community members are “apathetic” in running for local office. He said he hears complaints of roads, bridges, spending and more from the public, but no one else decides to run for office.

“If you care so much to complain why don’t you do something about it?” he said.

While voting is a part of that solution, running for office is too, he said.


Kritzer did not have competition this primary election. After the election last week, Kritzer thanked voters and the residents who worked the polls this year.

“I will be working hard to learn as much as possible so I can best represent the citizens of Brown County,” she said of the general election.