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Ceremony swears in elected officials, honors veterans

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— With November’s lopsided defeat of an Evansville-Vanderburgh County consolidation measure, local government in 2013 and beyond will continue in its current format.

Officials vowed at Tuesday’s inauguration ceremonies to do so in a bipartisan spirit.

Seventeen people including a state legislator, three judges, 10 county government office holders and three Evansville-Vanderburgh School Board members took oaths signaling the start of new terms.

Of those 17 officials, 13 returned to positions they already held. One of the remaining four, Republican Susan Kirk, shifted from the office of county clerk to county treasurer.

The only three newcomers sworn in Tuesday were Republican Debbie Stucki, who succeeded Kirk as county clerk; Republican Jeffrey Mueller, who took over as county surveyor; and Jeff Worthington, who joined the nonpartisan school board as a District 3 representative.

Bipartisanship was a central theme of the 80-minute ceremony, attended by a few hundred people at The Centre.

County Commissioners Joe Kiefer, a Republican, and Stephen Melcher, a Democrat, co-chaired the event. Both were returned to office without opposition and said they viewed that as support of their approach to governing.

Together with the third County Commissioner, Marsha Abell, Kiefer said the panel will continue to work on economic development, public safety and infrastructure needs.

Melcher, a former Democratic Party chairman, also stressed the bipartisan theme. “We have to work as a team, and that’s what Marsha, Joe and I do real well,” he said.

Melcher also had a kind word for GOP Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, who was in the audience, saying, “I think you’re taking us in the right direction.”

Kiefer credited Melcher with suggesting Tuesday’s inauguration ceremony honor local military veterans and active duty personnel. The event included numerous tributes, with veteran Mike Blake of WFIE-NBC14 serving as master of ceremonies and the Rev. Gerald Arnold, also a veteran, offering the invocation and benediction.

“We are blessed that the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces have given us the right to run for elected office,” Kiefer said.

The full list of 17 people taking oaths of office Tuesday at The Centre included:

State Sen. Vaneta Becker (R)

County Commissioners Joe Kiefer (R) and Stephen Melcher (D)

County Council members Ed Bassemier (D), Angela Koehler Lindsey (R) and Mike Goebel (D)

County Recorder Z Tuley (D)

County Treasurer Susan Kirk (R)

County Clerk Debbie Stucki (R)

County Surveyor Jeffrey Mueller (R)

County Coroner Annie Groves (D)

School Board members Karen Ragland, Terry Gamblin and Jeff Worthington

Superior Court Judges Mary Margaret Lloyd, Brett Niemeier and Wayne Trockman

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