October 21, 2022

Meet the candidates running for Marion County Clerk

Democrat Kate Sweeney Bell and Republican Andrew Harrison are running for Marion County Clerk. - provided photos

Democrat Kate Sweeney Bell and Republican Andrew Harrison are running for Marion County Clerk.

provided photos

Two candidates are running for the role of Marion County Clerk: Democratic candidate Kate Sweeney Bell and Republican candidate Andrew Harrison. (Current clerk Myla Eldridge is not seeking re-election.) 

Bell was chair of the Marion County Democratic Party. And she is finishing her last term as county recorder in addition to running for clerk. Harrison held a number of volunteer offices in recent years, including as a member of the City of Southport Public Safety Board and the City of Southport Parks & Recreation Board.

WFYI sent each of the candidates five questions to help voters prepare for early voting and Election Day, Nov. 8. Their answers are presented in alphabetical order.

Editor’s note: Candidate responses were edited for AP Style and grammar, and any numbers used were checked for accuracy. When a statement required more clarification or could not be independently verified, WFYI reached out to candidates before publication. Those instances, and those candidate responses, are noted throughout in editors’ notes.

Learn more: Unigov Handbook - A citizen's guide to local government


Kate Sweeney Bell

Why are you running for Marion County Clerk?

I love public service. One of my proudest moments was a few years ago when I received the William A. Crawford Public Service Award for my work to help end homelessness in Indianapolis. It’s the best kind of job you can have… working on behalf of your hometown and its residents. One of the best ways to serve residents is as the county clerk. It is the front door of government service, and nearly every resident will interact with the clerk’s office at one point or another – whether in getting married, going to court, or exercising their right to vote.

What do you see as the most pressing issue the next clerk will face?

On Jan. 6, 2020, we saw the worst that our country can produce when the U.S. Capitol was invaded. It was terrifying, and humbling – because for all the progress we’ve made, it’s clear that there’s so much work to be done.

All across the country – and right here in Indiana – there are some who believe that they win when we lose our right to vote. I can’t let that happen. So every day of this campaign I wake up fighting for access to the ballot. And if elected, I’ll wake up every day as clerk and fight to make sure our rights are protected.

Do you feel Marion County’s election security is adequate? If yes, why? If no, what would you do to improve it?

I do believe our elections are secure in Marion County, but that’s not by accident. It’s been due to constant vigilance and a collaborative approach across city-county government. That being said, the threats to ballot access continue to grow every year. As county clerk, I have committed to working with law enforcement, state leaders, and our peer agencies across the country to implement best practices in order to maintain credibility as a safe, secure place to cast your vote.

Is voting access adequate in Marion County? Please explain.

We have made great strides in Marion County thanks to recent leadership in the clerk’s office. I give particular credit to current County Clerk Myla Eldridge, who has modernized our voting processes to improve access, increase accountability, and collaborated to implement a system which allows every voter the ability to cast a ballot at any vote center in Marion County on Election Day.

We can and should be doing more to find ways to expand legal voting access. And it is for that reason that I will be diligent and tireless in my efforts to safeguard the progress we’ve made and build on it in years to come.

 

Andrew Harrison

Why are you running for Marion County Clerk?

I am running for Marion County Clerk to bring a fresh new perspective to the county. I am not a career politician. I bring 20 years of global security business experience from the Fortune 100 private sector. I want to ensure that we have free, fair, and transparent elections, as well as cut wasteful spending, make voting more accessible, and harder to cheat. Moreover, I want to deliver a solid return on the taxpayers’ investment for government service. I want to advance and modernize the office and get some real tangible initiatives done.

What do you see as the most pressing issue the next clerk will face?

Keeping the office bipartisan and 100 percent transparent for the community.

Do you feel Marion County’s election security is adequate? If yes, why? If no, what would you do to improve it?

No, I do not. I think we are vulnerable, and that's why you need a bipartisan security expert like me in this position; to identify those vulnerabilities and shore them up. For starters, I would not allow the chief election officer for the county to be a partisan party chairperson (Republican or Democrat).** If we are to have free, fair, and transparent elections, this cannot be allowed. The optics of this look horrible and leave the door wide open. Another area I would focus on is the traveling election board, which I fully support, as sometimes we need to bring the vote to people that are unable to get out and vote. However, using city taxi cabs, with a loose chain of custody, is something that needs to be tightened up.**

**Editor's note: Bell is the former Marion County Democratic Party Chair. She resigned from that post in August. WFYI could not verify a program using city taxi cabs and asked Harrison for clarification. He provided this additional language: “I will address security vulnerabilities which do exist, as there is always room for improvement. I will conduct a SWOT analysis and identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the chain of custody process.”

Is voting access adequate in Marion County? Please explain.

Overall, Marion County has a lot of voting opportunities. One change I would make is working to make sure there are at least two early voting satellite locations in each township. Increased early voting in person would make the lines shorter and make it easier for residents to vote.


How to vote in Marion County:

Early voting began Oct. 12 at the Indianapolis City-County Building, and additional early voting sites open Oct. 29. On Nov. 8, Marion County residents can vote at any of the county’s vote centers.

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