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Southport candidates running for mayor, city council and clerk-treasurer

Compiled by Nancy Price

Indiana primary elections are just five days away. There are two candidates running for mayor: James Cooney and Vernon Jesse Testruth.

Candidates discussed their experience, qualifications, leadership, reasons for wanting to run for office and a desire to make a difference on the Southside of Indianapolis.

The Southside Times is only focusing editorially on the contested races. We will include everyone running for election during the fall.

Remember to vote Tuesday, May 7.


James A. Cooney (R)

Why do you want to become mayor?

I would like to continue the progress made over the last four years.

What are your qualifications to be mayor?

I have served on Southport’s City Council for 10 years, including three years as council president. I am also serving on the Redevelopment Commission and was involved in efforts to create a development deal at the lumberyard site across from Renaissance. I was a member of the building committee to oversee the construction of the new city hall and police department. Additionally, I have served as the president of the Stormwater Utility Board since its inception in 2016, working on upgrading the storm sewer system within the city.

What are three priorities that you would like to achieve if elected mayor?

  1. Increased walkability with street and sidewalk improvements.
  2. Revitalization of the business district through continued city planning.
  3. Support unity within Southport with the promotion of our parks department.

Vernon Jesse Testruth (R)

Why do you want to become mayor?

I have been asked by some of the citizens to run again. They aren’t happy with the way the city is run. After a lot of thought and research on their complaint, I agreed to run.

What are your qualifications to be mayor?

I was a former mayor of Southport, from 2010-2014. My education with IUPUI/IACT Mayor’s Academy (four-year course). I have 23 years of experience in military leadership training and 34 years of experience working for ADT in customer relations and community service. I’m presently working for the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) Legislative Committee, testifying at the state capital for veterans’ benefits.

What are three priorities that you would like to achieve if elected mayor?

  1. To create a safer community by focusing on quality of life issues for our neighborhoods and businesses. We will do this by having a more interactive relationship between our community and our police department with an emphasis on addressing issues of concern to our neighborhoods.
  2. To maintain an office that will be accessible to our citizens, our council and others in our community: to provide information as it relates to city operations and budgets and ensure that notices of all meetings that impact the community will be posted for public viewing.
  3. I support a sound fiscal policy that will be efficient and maximize our finite resources. I will work for the maintenance of our infrastructure; enhance green spaces and future development that enhances our city’s quality and character. I desire a good working relationship with our council and work together to benefit our great city.


Diana S. Bossingham (R)


Carol Bowling (R)

Background: Carol was born and raised in Southport. Her father and mentor, Jack Harman, was on the original Southport Flag Committee that acquired funds to begin the American flag tradition in the city. Carol has served on the Southport Flag Committee, the Southport Park Board since 2017 and is currently the board president. She led the board through the implementation of the LWCF (Land Water Conservation Fund) grant that allowed the park’s new upgrades, including a new ADA playground. She has regularly attended the Board of Public Works and Safety meetings and Southport City Council meetings to learn how the city of Southport government operates.

Billy McKinney (R)

Background: William “Billy” McKinney has lived in Southport for 31 years and he volunteers as a safety officer. He and his wife, Linda McKinney, have five children and 11 grandchildren. Billy is a member of Fellowship of Christ Baptist Church and said that God is No. 1 in his life. He said he is running for office because he is an honest man, will do what is right for the community of Southport and for the people in it and is “just the man in the overalls.”


Jacklynn Bettis (R)

Background: Jacklynn “Jackie” Bettis has lived in Indiana since 2013 after being transferred from New York. She has lived in Southport since 2015. Jackie has worked for ADT Security since May 1992. She and her husband, Gerald, have been married for 30 years and have a 23-year-old son, Alan. Jackie is a Disciple of Christ. She is a past president of the Gates-Greece and Rochester Kiwanis Clubs.

Joseph E. Haley, Jr. (R)

Background: Joseph “Joe” Haley, Jr. has been a resident of Southport since 2010. He is a retired teacher of individuals with special needs and works full-time in the ministerial field. Joe was also appointed to the Southport City Council for District 3 in 2013. He said he supports two main items for city government: a beautiful and active park for citizens and a strong and well-managed Public Works and Safety. In addition to serving Southport as a councilor, he is also the president of the Perry Seniors Board of Directors. He is married to his wife, Jennifer, and has four children: Elisabeth, Alyssa, Olivia and Joey.


Larry Tunget (R)


Charles James Lynch (R)


Shara Hostetler (R)

Diane O’Neal Buchanan (R)

Background: Diane O’Neal Buchanan said she believes her 15 years’ work experience in accounting shows skills and knowledge necessary to excel as Southport City Clerk-Treasurer in maintaining a balanced budget and paying bills timely while keeping costs down through grant writing. She said Southport needs individuals who share the same goals and are dedicated to work in harmony with each other. Diane has lived in Southport for 60 years and stated that the success and growth of Southport is as important to her as she believes it is to its citizens.

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