One of the few contested races in the primary was for the District 4 seat on the Brown County Council. It will also be one of the few contested races in the fall general election.
Republican Jim Kemp was announced the winner of that race on primary election night with 349 votes cast for him. His Republican opponents were Scott Waddell and Kyle Clark. Waddell received 167 votes and Kyle Clark had 109.
Democratic candidate Marcia Grooms Taylor ran unopposed in the primary and received 175 votes. She will race against Kemp for the county council seat this fall.
The District 4 seat was held by longtime council member Arthur “Art” Knight for 22 years before he decided to not seek re-election.
The financial powers of a county are placed in the county council, which serves as a check on the board of commissioners and board of finance. The county council has fiscal control over all county officers, boards and commissions and appropriates funds used by the county and its officers.
Once all was said and done, Kemp said he was glad the primary election was over.
“I’m a business man, financial planner,” he said. “I’m not a politician.”
He said the uncertainty of the outcome can be tiring.
“You do everything you think you should do,” he said. “When results came out it was close to 10 p.m. and I’d gotten up at 3:30 a.m.”
“I was relieved it was over after the outcome. Overall I enjoyed (campaigning), Election Day was a hoot, it was fun,” he continued. “I love being around people, talking to people.”
When he first decided to run he asked himself one question: “Why am I doing this?”
He came up with about 2,000 words, which he used on his website www.jimkemp.com, outlining who he is, where he came from and why he is running for county council.
In that process it became crystal clear in his mind why he’s running: to ensure that the county pays attention to not just every dollar, but “every dime” that is spent of taxpayer money.
“If we don’t pay attention to every dime we spend every year, what’s going to happen is you’re going to watch those property tax rates increase,” he said. “We’ve got to keep a lid on expenses. We’ve gotta go in and forecast that out and take a hard look. … We’ve got to live within our means.”
Starting now, Kemp said he has to go in and do research about topics like housing density.
“I’ve got a lot of studying to do. I’ve got to be a student,” he said.
In talking to people, he said he’s asking one question: “What is one word that best describes what you value about living in Brown County?”
“If I do get elected (in the fall) half the population is probably going to hate my guts because I ask a lot of questions,” he said.
“Let’s be good stewards of what we have. Let’s take care of what we’ve got and be grateful for we have.”
Kemp said a financial challenge for the county is the state of Indiana owning a majority of the property here for the state park and forests.
“They own half the real estate. The state is making boatload of money off of the county every year. Give us more money so we can take care of our infrastructure, especially if you want to keep tourism high,” he said.
Kemp’s main goal if elected in the fall is to think long-term for county residents and future generations.
“People in the ‘fourth quarter’ (of life) in leadership roles won’t suffer consequences, (younger generations) will. This isn’t about Jim Kemp, it’s about the people in Brown County,” he said.
Kemp previously said he was not running for county council to fix the county because it is not currently broken, but it faces challenges other small counties do, like an aging and declining population, declining school enrollment and aging infrastructure.
Waddell said that this was his first political campaign and along the way he was able to meet many people and make new friends, including Kemp.
“We shared ideas and vision for the county and have agreed to remain in contact,” he said. “Jim Kemp and Joel Kirby will be great resources for our county once they are elected to council in November and begin serving in 2023.”
Waddell said watching election numbers roll in at the Brown County primary election return party at the Seasons Lodge and Conference Center was “intense.”
He said he was thankful to every person behind each vote for him.
“Thank you Brown County residents for making me feel so welcome,” he said. “The campaign process can be time consuming and expensive. I did not ask for money from anyone. I did learn a lot and plan to run for office again sometime.”
Waddell said he plans to stay involved in county government by attending meetings and staying in contact with commissioners and council members. He also works for Brown County Schools as the director of transportation.
“My job as director of transportation for Brown County Schools keeps me in touch with staff at the highway department, health department, sheriff’s, emergency response, town of Nashville and Nashville PD. We are blessed to have so many great people serving our community,” he said.
Though she ran unopposed, Grooms Taylor said she was curious to see who her opponent would be in the fall.
“I look forward to learning more about the concerns of other Brown County residents,” she said. “I plan to be at several community events and hope to talk with as many people as I can. I want to serve the community with fiscal responsibility and government transparency.”
Clark could not be reached for comment by deadline.