Election Day: Four candidates on ballot for St. Joseph County Commissioner's race

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Today marks election day for the Indiana Primary. In St. Joseph County, several races are taking place, including the St. Joseph County Commissioner’s District 1 race. Among those fighting for your vote on the ballot, are 2 republicans and 2 democrats running for county commissioner.

On the republican side competing, are candidates Carl Baxmeyer and Robert “Butch” Wood.

Carl Baxmeyer, originally from New York, moved to Indiana, serving as the Planning Director for LaPorte County in 1978. He ran as a republican candidate for Mayor of South Bend in 1987, ran for U.S Congress in 1992, and for State Representative in 2012. However, did not win those races. He’s also had many roles over the years, including working as the St. Joseph County Chairman, President of Clay Township’s Republican Club, and is currently Vice Precinct Committeeman. He believes that his experiences will bring common sense values as county board commissioner. Baxmeyer has been named the winner of this Republican primary, receiving 55% of the votes (97% of votes tallied).

Butch Wood has served as a Harris Township Trustee from 2007 to 2015, and was able to assist the growth of the fire department by consolidating with the Clay Fire Territory. He currently works for the Clay Fire Territory as Battalion Chief, working in public safety for 32 years. If elected, his agenda is to make leaf pickup, public safety and the St. Joseph County 911 Communications Center a priority.

On the Democratic side competing, are candidates Mike McManus and Donald Westerhausen Jr. 

Mike McManus is a Notre Dame alum. He spent his career as a primary lawyer and moved to Indiana and built a home in German Township after retirement in 2016. His goal is to contribute to making St. Joseph County a strong and better place to work and live in.

Donald Westerhausen Jr. was a candidate for House District 5 in 2018 and in 2020. Currently, he works as a Cardiologist. He is running to represent St. Joseph County because he believes in some manner of public service incumbent to everyone, and wants to “contribute more to our society in a positive manner.” Westerhausen Jr. has won this Democratic primary, receiving 69% of the votes.

All St. Joseph County candidates were invited to a forum hosted by IUSB in March. Both McManus and Westerhausen Jr. took to the stage, but Baxmeyer and Wood did not attend.

Prior to this election, controversy spun about the redistricting maps, with many Michiana residents voicing their concerns about equal representation with minority groups among the district. It was a months-long heated dispute, before finally coming to a decision and a vote on what the map would look like for the next decade.

St. Joseph County commissioners and council members agreed on the redistricting map back on March 2, and passed it in a 6-2 vote. This vote came, after many discussions with Michiana residents. The controversy surrounding district maps, is what lead a democratic candidate for the St. Joseph County District 1 Commissioners’ race, Jason Critchlow to withdraw, since the updated map changed the district that he hoped to represent.

Still, both commissioners and council members said that the new map represents what’s best for the community, agreeing, and saying that this new map represents what’s need to spread out the dense population of minorities into other districts.

District 1 represents all of Clay, German and Harris townships, along with portions of Penn, Portage and Warren townships.

The democratic and republican winner will face one another in November.

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