April 29, 2022

Two Democrats go head-to-head in primary race for Marion County Clerk

Jill Sheridan/WFYI

Jill Sheridan/WFYI

Two Democratic candidates are vying for a spot on the ballot this fall to be the next Marion County Clerk.

Kate Sweeney Bell, chair of the Marion County Democratic Party and the current Marion County Recorder, is the party-endorsed candidate. Billie Breaux, a former state senator, Marion County auditor and educator came out of retirement to run for the position.

“When I saw that there was no opposition and only one person on the ballot, I felt that this was not allowing people a choice. And we should have choices,” Breaux said.

Breaux added that she did not seek the party nomination and entered the race later in the process.

The race has caused tension among Indianapolis Democrats, with some arguing that Sweeney Bell should not be running for the job. Last week, a group of Black community leaders held a press conference where they said Sweeney Bell should not be in the race while serving as the chair of the Marion County Democratic Party.

Breaux said there is a conflict as the party chair can and has appointed precinct committee people who then in turn vote to endorse candidates, including Sweeney Bell. 

Sweeney Bell said if she is elected clerk, she will resign as the county chair.

“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.

Sweeney Bell said after the January 6 insurrection, it was clear that democracy needs to be protected, which she hopes to do if elected as county clerk.

“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.

Breaux said she is running for the job because she is a passionate advocate and Democrat.

“I want the Democratic Party to stand up for principles which we believe in, which is fairness, equity, honesty, and being trustworthy, and doing what is right for all the people the best we know how.” Breaux said.

The Republican candidate for clerk is Andrew Harrison. The primary election is May 3.

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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