Race to fill Kenley’s seat shapes up

By Adrianna Pitrelli

INDIANAPOLIS — From a former policy advisor to Gov. Mike Pence to a political newcomer, at least six Republicans are vying for Sen. Luke Kenley’s soon-to-be open Senate seat.

Kenley, R-Noblesville, announced his retirement July 5, ending his 25 years in office Sept. 30. As chairman of the Senate Appropriates Committee, Kenley finished his final legislative session by passing a balanced budget and developing a long-term road funding plan for the Hoosier state.

The Republican Party will caucus Sept. 6 to appoint his replacement before the start of the 2018 legislative session. The person picked will serve the remainder of Kenley’s term, which will end in 2020.

Brad Beaver. Provided photo.

Brad Beaver

Lifelong Hamilton County resident Brad Beaver has served on county council for 20 years.

“I have never missed a county council meeting,” Beaver said. “During my tenure, I have never raised property taxes. Yet, the council has still managed to accumulate a $50 million surplus.”

With years of experience in dealing with fiscal choices at a local level, Beaver said he will ensure taxpayer money goes where it belongs, and he will bring a true conservative mindset to the Statehouse.

Aside from serving on county council, Beaver coaches basketball at the Boys and Girls Club and is a member of White River Christian Church.

After graduating from college, he started his own heating and cooling business and is a fourth-generation entrepreneur in Hamilton County.

He and his wife, Trina, have three children together.

Sue Finkam. Provided photo.

Sue Finkam

With a desire to attract jobs to Hamilton County and ensure the quality of life by making sure the public is safe, Sue Finkam hopes to soon move from Carmel City Council president to senator.

“But it’s not enough for me to just fill this seat — I want to reinvent it,” Finkam said.

Finkam currently serves as director of external engagement for Indiana Donor Network, where she oversees about 25 employees that educate Hoosiers about how they can save lives by becoming a donor.

Additionally, Finkam is part of Invest Hamilton County and is an alumna of the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series.

She and her husband, Joe, have a son together and she said she loves attending his soccer-related events as a family.

Joe Morris. Provided photo.

Joe Morris

For 25 years, Joe Morris worked as a business professional and served on many boards within and outside the financial services industry at both the local and state level.

“I have a passion for seeing our youth develop skills for life, our families succeed in life, our seniors are respected in life, our businesses thrive in life and our communities prosper in fostering this passion,” Morris said.

He said because of his business background, he has experience working with legislature at the state and federal level on issues such as tax and healthcare reforms.

The lifelong Hoosier volunteers for local organizations, and spends much of his time traveling the country speaking about topics ranging from the federal health care law to business development.

Morris has three daughters.

Dan Schmidt. Photo provided.

Dan Schmidt

Dan Schmidt, of Westfield, said he wants to give back to his community and being a senator is the best way to do so.

Schmidt, who is a lawyer and works as a public sector strategy and management consultant, formerly served as Gov. Mike Pence’s administration as a policy advisor on transportation, energy and environment.

“I believe that if you are not leaning forward, you are falling behind,” Schmidt said in a statement. “I want to help Indiana lean into the future, building upon the successes of yesterday, but ready to take advantage of tomorrow’s opportunities.”

Schmidt said as senator, he would focus on investing in infrastructure and limiting the size of government to provide quality services to Hoosiers.

Schmidt and his wife, Jennifer, have six children together and attend Our Lady of Mount Carmel. He is actively involved in Boy Scouts and is an avid runner.

Victoria Spartz. Provided photo.

Victoria Spartz

After serving in financial leadership positions for Fortune 200 companies and becoming the Chief Financial Officer of the Indiana Office of Attorney General, Victoria Spatz said she wants to take her knowledge business and apply it to state government.

“We must unify Republicans statewide,” she said. “We are far more effective as one cohesive group.”

Spartz, of Noblesville, sits on the 5th Congressional District Republican Central Committee, is part of Hamilton County Federated Republican Women, serves as vice-chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party.

As a Ukraine native, Spartz said she wants to ensure limited government is the foundation of Hoosier policies, allowing for lower taxes and a free enterprise system.

Megan Wiles. Provided photo.

Megan Wiles

President of the Noblesville City Council, Megan Wiles, is new to politics, as she was first elected in 2016, but said she knows the importance of legislative bodies.

“I understand how Statehouse decisions affect local communities,” she said.

Wiles, who has been an active in the Hamilton County for decades, said she is seeking office with the intention of focusing on job creation, keeping taxes low and making sure schools have the resources they need.

Wiles serves as executive director of Riverview Health Foundation, but beforehand was president of the Legacy Fund, the Community Foundation of Hamilton County.

She is an avid volunteer for organizations including Girl Scouts of Central Indiana and Connor Prairie Alliance. She is also a lifelong member of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Noblesville.

She and her husband, Greg, have two children together.

Adrianna Pitrelli is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. 

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