By Marilyn Odendahl

The Indiana Citizen

By midmorning, the stream of voters going into the polling site at Lawrence Firehouse 37 on North German Church Road was steady, with one or two voters coming as one or two voters left.

The voter check-in table and voting machines were set up in the truck bays. Poll workers said of the 205 residents who had voted by 10:13 a.m., all had been very pleasant. One poll worker noted some residents had brought babies and were educating the infants about what to do on Election Day.

Outside, campaign volunteers for the mayoral candidates greeted and thanked the voters. The contest is between Democrat Deborah Whitfield and Republican Dave Hofmann, who are both running since Lawrence Mayor Steve Collier is stepping down after serving two terms. 

Jerome Stanford and Wallace Turner, members of the carpenters’ union, had been at the firehouse since shortly before 6 a.m. to show their support for Whitfield. Stanford was holding a wooden pole with a Whitfield placard attached.

“Good morning, thank you for coming out,” Stanford greeted one voter. “You see the sign, right?”

Randy Warman and David and Doreen Loyal were wearing Hofmann t-shirts and holding stacks of handbills. None of the voters took any campaign materials, but a few stopped to say hello.

“This is exciting,” Warman said of the election. “If you care about the community, what better way can you really see and hear from the residents?”

The Hofmann volunteers talked about their candidate’s experience and vision for the city. The Whitfield volunteers said their support was not linked to the political party but rather, they liked her ideas. 

Shortly after 9 a.m., Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett arrived and, after greeting the Democratic volunteers, stood near the door to the firehouse to meet the voters. He shook hands with several, hugged a few and posed as a couple of voters took pictures. 

A cheer erupted from the small crowd when a young woman arrived to vote for the very first time.

“First-time voter,” one woman announced excitedly. 

When not discussing politics among themselves or thanking voters, Warman and David Loyal said the conversation strayed into trading health tips and a debate over the best way to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The sandwich discourse even spread over to Stanford and Turner who, according to Warman, provided their input.

While they disagreed about the candidates and, perhaps, peanut butter sandwiches, all the volunteers were steadfast about the importance of voting.

Warman said even as some voters might be turned off by some of the fighting between the current mayor and the city council, participating in elections was “absolutely” worth the effort.

“It’s necessary we do this,” Warman said. “I kind of like the life of an election and how it brings things up.”

Stanford said educating voters was the best way to counter the “my vote doesn’t count” attitude that keeps many Hoosiers away from the polls. He noted less than 50% of registered voters had turned out for previous elections and races ended up being decided by just a handful of votes.

“You think your vote doesn’t count, it does,” Stanford said. “It’s your right. It’s very important.” 

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