FISHERS, Ind. — An Indianapolis suburb that got its start as a prairie town is beginning to reinvent itself as a city after a majority of voters agreed to the move in Tuesday's election.
The process of shifting Fishers from a town to a traditional city form of government involves more than just changing signs and letterhead. New districts must be drawn up for council members, which gives Democrats a glimmer of hope that they might get a voice at the table.
Currently, members of the Fishers Town Council represent different districts, but they are all elected at one time. The top seven vote-getters win.
Under the city form of government, Fishers will have nine city council members, six of whom will be elected by voters in their district alone, The Indianapolis Star reported (http://indy.st/XmZhZQ ). The three remaining members will be elected at-large.
Democrats say that might give them a chance in the heavily Republican community of 80,000.
"Right now, the districts are sort of superficial," said Keith Clock, chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party and a former Fishers resident. "But the new districts will mean candidates will be chosen by a smaller population, rather than the entire town.
"This is the only way to affect a real change, to have these council districts be more competitive."
Clock said he doesn't know of any Democrat who's ever won a Fishers election. But he hopes that will change.
"I believe some of these precincts could be competitive for a Democrat," he said.
The first primary election for the new city will be held in May of 2015. That gives officials and prospective candidates plenty of time to plan.
Doug Church, the town's longtime attorney, will guide much of the planning as Fishers transforms its simple form of town government into a more complex system with a mayor, the bigger council and other changes.
"The transition from town to city is a statutory process," Church said. "We are developing a timeline that sets out (this) process, and it will be provided to the council (this month)."
When the 2015 elections roll around, all seven Fishers Town Council members will be up for re-election, and voters will also elect two additional council members, a city clerk, a city judge and a mayor.
Town Council President Scott Faultless isn't ready to toss his hat into the ring for mayor — at least not yet.
"I haven't even considered it at this point," Faultless said. "I really haven't."
But he understands the appeal of being the "first mayor of Fishers."
"Fishers is a great community," said Faultless. "Who wouldn't want to be mayor?"