GASTON, Ind. — We’re three weeks away from the Indiana primary elections. In Gaston, there’s an interesting race happening now for Town Council. Let’s just say, two of the Democrat and Republican candidates have a bit of a past.
There’s big talk around this small town heading into the primaries. Candidates are hoping their names come up at dinner tables across the community. For Audra and Benji Koontz, their conversations are a bit more unique.
“People have to pay attention,” said Benji.
These two candidates may belong to separate parties, but their last name is what they have in common.
“He’s quite conservative,” said Audra.
Benji added, “And she’s not.”
“I’m a little less conservative. We thought, hey, we could each take one side of the ticket and see if we could make a difference,” added Audra.
Audra and Benji Koontz have been married for 19 years. Life-long residents of Gaston, they decided now is the time they both want to make a difference.
“We were both willing to do that and since our voting records are quite different for the primary,” Audra explained, “we were able to take two separate tickets.”
What started as an idea to get citizens interested in registering to vote turned into a mission for the couple. The pair is already heavily involved in community projects. Between the two, they’ve served a term on the Gaston Town Council, worked with the Gaston Historical Alliance and Bulldog Development Team.
They also continue to work on the Another Berry Long Run.
Since 2010, the mission of Another Berry Long Run (ABLR) has been to provide financial assistance to one family/organization per year that has endured the struggles of a life altering illness and/or the loss of a loved one. The financial support is intended to provide the family/organization with an opportunity to strengthen the family/group bond, enhance quality time, and create new lasting memories. ABLR focuses its funding on business donations, community support, and fundraising done during a fun filled community event.
“That’s why we did this,” said Benji Koontz, “That’s why we ran against each other, but they’re going to have to wise up and pay attention. They’re going to have to get registered to vote and go vote.”
Like any other couple, this husband and wife don’t always see eye-to-eye with politics, but they do agree on what matters. They say that’s their hometown.
“She’s been on there before, she knows what she’s doing,” said Benji Koontz.
It’s a fair fight to the finish with these two, without political rumors getting in the way of this power couple.
“For you I would! I would have to make something up for you,” joked Audra.
Benji laughed, “I was good, remember that. I was the good one.”
Indiana’s primary election day is Tuesday, May 7.