When Mayor Joe Yochum got a less-than-cheerful text from his wife whilst sitting in the barber’s chair the other day, and he was slightly taken aback.
“She says to me, ‘Why do I have to hear from Facebook that you’ve announced you’ll run for a third term?’” Yochum said with a chuckle.
The text was sent in jest — kind of, he said — because the possibility of a third run is anything but new. It’s often discussed around the dinner table between him and his wife, Susan, and their blended family of children and grandchildren.
It was relatively understood, he said, that he would, when the time came, seek a third term.
So when he was asked on his weekly radio show the other day if he would, he didn’t hesitate to say so.
“But then it was all over Facebook that I’d made this big announcement,” Yochum said, again, amused at the hullabaloo of it all. “And yeah, we’ve discussed it, that I’d run for a third term.
“But honestly, after that interview, I never thought anything else about it — at least not until I got that text from my wife.”
Yochum said while running for a third term — if he wins, he’d be the first three-term mayor since Bill Rose — was always in the back of his mind, it wasn’t until this most recent election that he felt driven to make a final decision.
A couple of races got rather tumultuous — complete with social media mud-slinging and accusatory print and radio advertisements — and Yochum said he felt inspired to stay in the game, perhaps, if only, to show that government can’t thrive without civility.
“This past election, the way it went, I thought, ‘What they’re doing is terrible,’” Yochum said. “So that played a big part in my decision.
“City elections don’t usually get nasty like that, and I can tell you, (my campaign) sure won’t.”
Yochum will again run on the Democrat ticket — not that that means much anymore, he adds.
He supported his own brother, Jay Yochum, who won his bid for a seat on the county council in November running as a Republican.
“Because it’s not about parties,” he said. “It’s about doing what is right for Vincennes.”
When Yochum won a second term in November of 2015, he ran unopposed.
Linda Painter, chair of the local Republican Party — which swept local contested races in November — said, right now, they don’t have anyone prepared to run against Yochum for mayor.
“I have not heard anything at this point in time from anyone,” she said. “That’s not saying there won’t be. Filing doesn’t begin until the first week in January, and oftentimes people don’t speak up until then.
“But right now, no names have been brought to me.”
Micah Haynes, chairman of the newly-formed Libertarian Party, whose members have been a fixture at recent city and county meetings, said they had “a few people who are considering it,” especially if no Republican decides to enter the race.
“Vincennes deserves the opportunity to elect a Libertarian but, most importantly, there has to be more than one option.”
Haynes said the local Libertarian Party will host its first county convention on Feb. 16, 2019 and could make announcements on candidates for the mayoral race and city council seats up for re-election thereafter.
Yochum has spent nearly two terms, he said, focusing heavily on infrastructure projects.
Two — the completion of a facelift of Second Street and the Riverwalk — he saw finished early on. Both were funded with state or federal grants and had been on the books for years, even decades, hampering the city’s efforts to secure any more grant dollars.
“I was basically told not to apply for any more until we finished those two projects,” he said.
But those completions, he said, paved the way for the city to secure hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last few years in state funding for infrastructure repairs.
“I’m proud of that. But I’m also proud of the way we’re all working together and getting things done,” he said of his relationship not only with his own department heads and the city council but also recent endeavors with county elected officials as well, like the development of the Pantheon Business Theater. “I feel like we’re all finally on the same bus, with the same driver headed down the same road.
“So I really hope that, if I’m elected to a third term, it’s because people have faith in the way we’re headed, that that’s the way they still want to go.”