The Democrats officially have entered the ring, ensuring three local races will be contested in this year’s General Election.
Last week, just prior to the deadline to fill ballot vacancies, the Howard County Democratic Party added three of its own to the election ticket. In doing so, the local party has set up political battles in the race for Howard County Council at-large, Howard County Commissioner District 2, and Howard County Treasurer.
Democrat Warren Sims officially filed to run for one of the three available at-large seats on the Howard County Council. That race provided the only contested local primary this year, paving the way for Sims to face Republicans Daryl Maple, Martha Lake, and James Papacek in the fall.
Sims is a native of Kokomo, a local business owner, and U.S. Army veteran.
In 2000 Sims graduated from Kokomo High School and went on to serve in the Army from 2009 to 2016. He served a tour in Afghanistan from 2014 to 2015, and when he returned home, he opened All American Auto Service.
“I’m just active in the community and continue staying active in the community,” said Sims. “That’s never going to change, elected or not elected. That’s not going to change. Kokomo is home for me. I got to see the other side of the world and see what that looked like in probably not so many pretty pictures for some folks and some things that others will never experience. So, I appreciate more of what we’ve got here after that experience.”
Sims said he was partially motivated to run after last year’s election, wherein Republicans swept Democrats in the elections for Kokomo Common Council and mayor. That election brought in a host of new elected officials, and Sims said he wanted to join the ranks of those serving in public office.
“I think anything and everything about what I do comes back to common sense and forward thinking,” said Sims. “I would tell a voter, if they were talking to me, ‘Do your homework … Do your homework on a candidate.’ If I’m your candidate, I’m going to bring common sense and forward thinking. This is a very unique election because we’re coming off a COVID-19 pandemic that nobody could have seen coming. Nobody could have planned for it. I think as a county, city, all of us together working collectively, we’ll figure out how to move forward from that. It’s going to be very common sense and forward thinking from me. We’ve got to run this like a business and make sure we’re doing this for all people, making sure resources are available for all.”
Democrat Rick Emry now will face incumbent Republican Commissioner Jack Dodd in the District 2 race as well.
Also a veteran, Emry received a congressional nomination to attend the United States Merchant Marine Academy and graduated in 1981. He spent the next 23 years active in the United States Naval Reserves and obtained the rank of commander before retirement. He is also a veteran of Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and he was mobilized twice after 9/11.
He’s also worked at Municipal Utility in Logansport, as a branch manager for Sears, and for the post office prior to retiring.
“The reason I’m running is because, one, I think I can be of service to the community,” said Emry. “I think I have a wealth of knowledge because I’ve lived in other parts of the country, and I’ve lived in other countries. It gives me a unique perspective of things and the challenges we face.”
Emry said the biggest issue facing Howard County, at the moment, was COVID-19 and the various impacts it’s created in the community.
“I think the biggest thing that everyone will face is COVID-19,” said Emry. “This thing has just gotten out of hand. Until there’s a vaccine, this impacts everybody’s daily life. And I think it will continue to impact everybody’s daily life until there is a vaccine. To the realm of education, secondary education, colleges, work, and I think you need people that want to put party aside and address the issue. Let’s brainstorm this because there won’t be one set answer, and I think that has been demonstrated by the virus itself.”
Interestingly, Emry was involved in local politics earlier this year after the Howard County Republican Party sought to replace Greg Jones on the Kokomo Common Council. Emry threw his name in the hat to be considered by Republicans to fill the vacancy left by Jones’ resignation from the council. He was ultimately unsuccessful and now has filed as a Democrat in this year’s election. Emry defended the flip-flop.
“It’s really not a shift,” said Emry. “One thing that came out of that caucus was, ‘I wish you’d voted more times as a Republican,’ because they had to go back like four or five, maybe six years to find when I had voted in a primary as a designated Republican. That was kind of a long shot. I knew going in that would probably be my Achilles heel. The Democratic Party here in Howard County, basically before they chose to put me on the ballot, they pretty much drug me through the wringer. I had to answer that to their satisfaction. I think with my answer and the grilling I got, I showed that I was informed enough to be a viable candidate on the Democratic ticket.”
Democrat Ed Foster also will appear on the ballot running for Howard County Treasurer. His opponent is incumbent Treasurer Christie Branch, who went unopposed in the primaries. She ascended to her current position after former-Treasurer Wes Reed vacated the position to join Mayor Tyler Moore as an employee in city hall.
This isn’t Foster’s first run for office. In 2016 he also ran for the position but lost to Reed in the General Election.
Foster possesses an accounting degree from Wayne State University and has utilized his financial background for work in Kokomo. He’s worked for 35 years in accounting in the healthcare industry. He also previously served as an NCO with the United States Marine Corp.
Most recently, he’s served with a myriad of nonprofits in the area. He’s served on the board for the Dr. Martin Luther King Commission, working as the organization’s treasurer and also on the nonprofit’s fiannce committee. He’s also the treasurer for the Indiana Black Expo and chairman of that group’s finance committee. He’s the former president of Carver Community Center and held the position of treasurer for 13 years on that board. He’s also the treasurer for his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi chapter Nu Mu Nu.
Foster said he wanted to bring a new set of eyes to the treasurer’s office.
“I think my primary focus is to make some changes in the office of the Howard County Treasurer,” said Foster. “I constantly see where they’re doing well. They’re getting good audits and that sort of thing. And that’s a good thing, but I think you can always improve upon something. That’s what I’m interested in doing because I’m sure there are areas that are lacking. If you go and do an analysis of that area, I’m sure I can find some areas where they can receive some benefit from my knowledge and my understanding of accounting and finances.
“What I found out, what I understand, in that position in that office, they basically have been doing pretty much the same thing over and over again. And it’s been having good results. But there’s going to come a time when you’ll need somebody to face a particular problem or situation, and when that surfaces, you’ll need someone who knows how to handle those problems or those situations. And with my background and my experience, I’m ready to tackle any problem in finance or accounting, any situation that may come up.”
The General Election is slated for Nov. 3.