The chair of the Vanderburgh County Democratic Party is stepping down.
In a statement to the media, Scott Danks says he doesn’t have enough time to fully commit to the position.
Vice Chair Edie Hardcastle will run to replace him. She’s a biology professor at the University of Southern Indiana, who has been vice chair since January after losing a bid to the Indiana state senate to incumbent Jim Tomes last year. She was previously president of the progressive grassroots organization Indivisible Evansville.
Danks says he started looking for a replacement not long after he became chair around two and a half years ago. He says he made a promise to his wife when he was elected party chair that his new role wouldn't impede on family time.
Danks says he honored that committment, but it didn't come without costs. "I felt guilty because there's so much more that I should be doing with the party, and I can't do it," he says. "It's not just family. It's my work and my businesses and everything else."
He says confident in Hardcastle’s ability and that she's been acting as de facto chair for the past few months. "She’s ready, willing, and able to do it, and I’m really excited about it," he says. "I think Edie will be a wonderful successor. I just think she’ll do a great job."
The party will hold a caucus July 24 to elect new officers to its central committee. Anyone interested in running must inform the party secretary Cheryl Schultz 72 hours ahead of the caucus.
Danks isn't the only officer planning to step down. Treasurer Alex Burton is leaving to focus on his city council campaign. Schultz plans to run for his position.
Hardcastle says she's actively reaching out to people to ask if they'd consider running. She wouldn't give any names, but she says she’d like to see representation from unions and people of color on the central committee.
Danks's announcement comes only weeks after he made headlines during the fallout from an Evansville city council meeting.
In an exchange over a board appointment, city councilwoman Connie Robinson alluded to alleged incidents of racism within the primary campaign of fellow Democrat Missy Mosby.
Robinson, a long-time fixture in local Democratic politics, later announced she was leaving the party for what she said was the leadership's refusal to condemn racism in its ranks.
The following week, the party's central committee released a statement in support of Robinson and asked the city council to reconsider its contentious vote.
Danks went even further and, in a Facebook post, called for the resignation of almost half of the city council, including Mosby and Jonathan Weaver, another Democrat.
Danks says there's no tense situation within the party. "That's the first time I've ever spoken against a fellow Democrat. [Vanderburgh County Republican Party Chair] Wayne [Parke] does it routinely," Danks says. "I don't see it as such a big deal, frankly. It's kind of common place."
"There's always people that leave a primary situation unhappy," Hardcastle says. "The job is to find our commonalities so that we can come back together despite the fact that somebody has to lose in these primary situations."