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Bluffton’s mayor since 1995 won’t run again

August 7, 2018

Longtime Bluffton Mayor Ted Ellis will not seek re-election when his term expires next year.

Now in his sixth term, he is the state’s second longest-tenured mayor, according to Aim, a trade group for cities and towns formerly known as the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns.

The 71-year-old on Monday cited his age and a diagnosis six years ago of Parkinson’s disease as reasons why he won’t seek a seventh four-year term in the post he’s held since 1995.

Ellis, a Democrat who ran unopposed for mayor five times in solidly Republican Wells County, said he began thinking about retirement a few years ago.

“You want to leave the stage while people are still applauding you,” he said. “It’s time.”

A Wells County native, he grew up in local politics. His grandfather served on the County Council and his father was once county auditor.

Ellis also was elected county auditor and served nine years on the County Council before mounting a run for mayor.

Aim CEO Matthew Greller said Ellis’ run as Bluffton’s mayor has been impressive. Only Scottsburg Mayor Bill Graham, who took office in 1988, has served longer, he said.

Carmel Mayor James Brainard also is serving his sixth term.

“He’s meant the world to our organization,” said Greller, who said Ellis has been a leader among mayors on legislative and organizational issues.

“He’s been a mentor, he’s been a friend.”

Ellis has served as president of the National League of Cities and as treasurer of the United Cities and Local Governments.

He graduated from Indiana University with a degree in economics.

Ellis counts among successes the growth of the Bluffton Parks Department, which maintains public spaces including the Rivergreenway along the Wabash River. He also said he hopes he led people to believe community improvement is possible.

“It’s a community spirit and a community attitude,” Ellis said.

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, thanked Ellis in a statement.

“I congratulate Mayor Ellis on more than two decades of serving the Bluffton community, and I wish him a restful retirement,” he said.

Tami Runyon has been in city government for 41 years and has been Bluffton’s clerk-treasurer since 2008. She said the secret to Ellis’ longevity is his connection with his constituents.

“Everyone knew he was looking out for what’s best for Bluffton,” she said.

Ellis said he’s not sure what he’ll do in retirement.

There are nine grandchildren to spend time with, he said, but there hasn’t been much time for hobbies over the past 23 years.

“I’ve got to come up with a whole new game plan,” he said.  

mleblanc@jg.net

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