Deadline passes, Easter goes unopposed as next WL mayor
City’s development director, backed by Mayor Dennis, promises a door-to-door campaign, just the same. Fewer than half of city slot on Lafayette/West Lafayette ballots field challengers in November
Thanks to sponsor Stuart & Branigin for ongoing support of the Based in Lafayette reporting project.
DEADLINE PASSES, EASTER GOES UNOPPOSED AS NEXT WL MAYOR
Any lingering question that Erin Easter would be West Lafayette’s next mayor were wiped away Monday.
Several city council candidates emerged in the final days the major parties could slate in open races on November’s ballot. But no last-minute names popped in at the last deadline to challenge Easter, a Democrat, West Lafayette’s development director and Republican Mayor John Dennis’ pick for the position as he prepares to retire after four terms in office.
Had it sunk Monday, a few hours after the noon Monday filing deadline?
“A little,” Easter said. “I mean, it still doesn’t seem quite real. And I don’t think it will until I go all the way through the process, including knocking on doors and all of the traditional campaign things that you usually think of.”
Easter said she plans a full complement of campaigning through the summer and into the fall, working with city council candidates in contested races and talking to as many residents as possible.
Easter, a Lafayette Jeff and Purdue grad, joined Dennis’ staff in 2018 as deputy development director after a decade with Greater Lafayette Commerce. Dennis named her development director in 2020.
Dennis said he persuaded Easter to run, after making it clear that four terms were enough for him. Her campaign announcement in December was peppered with other high-profile local Republicans who pledged to back the Democrat’s campaign.
So, will the coming months without a contested campaign become more of a transition at city hall?
When he revealed a year ago that he was managing a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s, Dennis said he would lean heavily on department heads. And he put much of that responsibility on Easter as he’s gradually scaled back.
“I could learn everything between now and Jan. 1, and there will still be something that’s a surprise, which is inherent in a position like this,” Easter said. “But John has been very gracious with his time, making sure that I know how things work, the people I need to know and the more nuanced things about government that I haven’t had to directly deal with that now I’m at least knowledgeable about.”
NOW IS A GREAT TIME TO SIGN UP TO GET BASED IN LAFAYETTE STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX. FREE AND FULL-RIDE SUBSCRIPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE HERE:
In Lafayette, Republicans also took a pass on putting anyone up against Mayor Tony Roswarski, who is running for what would be a record-tying sixth term. (Democrat Jim Riehle won six elections, starting in 1971.) Roswarski faces a challenge in November from Libertarian Benji Milanowski, a public health nurse who said during the filing period ahead of the primary that he was running to make sure people knew they had options.
In Lafayette, six of the nine city council seats are uncontested. Same goes for city clerk, where Roswarski’s campaign partner Cindy Murray also will go for her sixth consecutive term.
In West Lafayette, three of the nine city council seats are uncontested. The number of contested races grew late last week with the addition of Democrat Laila Veidemanis, a Purdue student, to run in District 1 against Republican Aaron Abell; and Republicans Pat Flannelly, recently retired Lafayette police chief, and Brian Russell, a real estate broker and co-owner of Brokerage Brewing Co., to run for two of the three at-large council seats.
City Clerk Sana Booker and City Judge Lori Sabol, both Democrats, also won’t have opposition.
Here’s what ballots looked like in West Lafayette and Lafayette after the noon Monday deadline for parties to slate candidates. (Incumbents noted with an asterisk.)
Mayor: Tony Roswarski*, D; Benji Milanowski, Libertarian
Clerk: Cindy Murray*, D.
Council District 1: Jerry Reynolds*, R.
Council District 2: Eileen Hession Weiss*, D; Mary Fisher, R.
Council District 3: Perry Brown*, D.
Council District 4: Lauren Ahlersmeyer*, D; Josiah Eller, Libertarian
Council District 5: Melissa Weast Williamson*, D.
Council District 6: Bob Downing*, D; Perry Barbee, R
Council at-large (3 seats): Kevin Klinker*, D; Nancy Nargi*, D; Steve Snyder*, D.
Mayor: Erin Easter, D.
Clerk: Sana Booker*, D.
City Judge: Lori Sabol*, D.
Council District 1: Aaron Abell, R; Laila Veidemanis, D.
Council District 2: Michelle Dennis, D.
Council District 3: Colin Lee*, D.
Council District 4: Larry Leverenz*, D.
Council District 5: Kathy Parker*, D; James Waters, R.
Council District 6: Jeff Brown*, R; Stacey Baitinger Burr, D.
Council at-large (3 seats): James Blanco*, D; Iris O’Donnell Bellisario, D; David Sanders*, D; Brian Russell, R; Patrick Flannelly, R.
WABASH RIVER SEARCH
Police and dive teams spent much of Monday morning searching the Wabash River for a man who was recorded jumping from the John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge overnight. By late morning, police had stepped back the search and had reopened the bridge. For more on the ongoing investigation, here’s an account from J&C reporter Ron Wilkins: “Police, firefighters call off search for man who jumped from pedestrian bridge.”
THE FOURTH AND FIREWORKS
Fireworks are scheduled to start around 10 p.m. in downtown Lafayette, capping today’s annual Stars and Stripes Celebration of concerts at Riehle Plaza, near Second and Main streets. Here’s the lineup:
5 p.m.: Food truck vendors will open for business.
6 p.m.: Lafayette Jeff Jazz Combo and Alumni Band
7 p.m.: Clave Caribe
8 p.m.: Lafayette Citizens Band and the Freedom Singers
9 p.m.: Tippecanoe Ancient Fife and Drum Corps
9:10 p.m.: Lafayette Citizens Band and Freedom Singers
10 p.m.: Fireworks
Where else to catch fireworks: For a look at what other communities near Lafayette have going with fireworks shows, WLFI had this roundup: “Where and when to see local 2023 fireworks shows.”
WOLF PARK’S NEW PUPS SET FOR THEIR DEBUT
Clay and Cricket, Wolf Park’s newest pups, are scheduled to make their public debut Saturday, when the Battle Ground facility hosts its “Picnic with the Pack.” The pair of male gray wolf pups were born in Montana and brought to Indiana in May by Wolf Park staff. They have been acclimating to Wolf Park since then, waiting until they were a bit older before joining other wolves for public viewing and participating in Howl Nights and other roles the facility dubs “Wolf Park ambassadors.”
Picnic with the Pack opens at 4 p.m. with food trucks, tours, music and a howl night. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for children ages 6-13, available by going to: https://bit.ly/WolfParkPicnicWithThePack
Here’s a look at the pair, shortly after they arrived at Wolf Park:
TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT THE BASED IN LAFAYETTE REPORTING PROJECT. HERE’S A WAY TO SHARE TODAY’S FREE EDITION.
OTHER READS …
This was bound to happen. Days after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the use of race-conscious admissions policies at colleges and universities, a Boston-based nonprofit, Lawyers for Civil Rights, filed a complaint with the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, challenging the use of legacy admissions at Harvard, saying it gives an unfair advantage to children of the university’s alumni and violates the Civil Rights Act. (Harvard’s admissions policies had been among those challenged and disallowed by the Supreme Court.) “Your family’s last name and the size of your bank account are not a measure of merit, and should have no bearing on the college admissions process,” Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, the group’s executive director, said, according to the Associated Press. Here's an account from AP reporter Collin Binkley: “Activists spurred by affirmative action ruling challenge legacy admissions at Harvard.”
And for your Fourth of July enjoyment, a short, ramped-up history at the Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest (if that falls into your definition of sports) … Washington Post reporter Carson TerBush writes: “How hot dog contestants went from eating 10 to 76 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Some of the nation’s top ‘gurgitators’ shared their award-winning techniques.”
Thanks, again, to Stuart & Branigin for sponsorship help with today’s edition.
THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING BASED IN LAFAYETTE, AN INDEPENDENT, LOCAL REPORTING PROJECT. FREE AND FULL-RIDE SUBSCRIPTION OPTIONS ARE READY FOR YOU HERE.