May 3, 2022

Kate Sweeney Bell wins Democratic primary race for Marion County Clerk

Jill Sheridan/WFYI

Jill Sheridan/WFYI

Kate Sweeney Bell won Tuesday’s Democratic primary race for Marion County Clerk, securing a spot on the ballot this fall. She will face Republican Andrew Harrison, who ran unopposed.

With 97 percent of precincts reporting, as of 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sweeney Bell had 55.5 percent of the vote with 22,735 votes. Sweeney Bell is chair of the Marion County Democratic Party and the current Marion County Recorder. She was the party endorsed candidate, and said she is passionate about protecting democracy.

“For all the progress that we've made, it's clear that there's a lot of work to be done. It's important to defend democracy, and that's what I intend to do when I'm elected,” she said.

She defeated Billie Breaux, a former state senator, Marion County auditor and educator who came out of retirement to run for the position.

The race caused tension among Indianapolis Democrats, with some arguing that Bell should not run for the job. Last month, a group of community leaders held a press conference to protest Bell’s candidacy, as she is the chair of the Marion County Democratic Party.

Breaux and others say the conflict is that the party chair can appoint precinct committee people, who then in turn endorse party candidates – including Bell.

“This is the first time in the history of the Democratic Party that I know of that we have ever had a chair also run for elected position, simply because it's unfair to other candidates,” Breaux said.

Bell said she will resign from her county chair position.

“I've said this from the start. If I'm elected, I will resign as county chair,” she said.

The Marion County Clerk is in charge of public records and county elections. The Republican candidate for clerk is Andrew Harrison.

The election will take place on Nov. 8. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 5.

Contact WFYI criminal justice reporter Katrina Pross at kpross@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @katrina_pross.

Pross is a Corps Member of Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.

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