Southern Indiana

A Floyd County Commissioner will run for an Indiana State Senate seat in 2022.

Shawn Carruthers has served as a commissioner since 2019, including time as the board’s president. But now that three-term State Sen. Ron Grooms has announced he won’t seek reelection, Carruthers is running for the Indiana General Assembly.

“I respect Ron Grooms and would not run against him,” Carruthers said. “I think he has a right to go out on his own terms and be given that honor. Now that it’s an open seat, it’s time to allow the voters to have a choice. And I want to be one of the choices, and I just ask them to look at my record.”

Grooms has represented District 46 since 2011. It includes Clark and Floyd counties. 

Carruthers is a Tulsa-native who has lived in Floyd County since 1999. In addition to his time as commissioner, he’s served as Floyd County Republican Party chairman and treasurer. Carruthers said he wants to build on his work on economic development and infrastructure at the state level.

“I want to make sure that our businesses are taken care of,” he said. “I want to make sure that we continue the economic growth that we’ve experienced over the last 10 years in this district, and just want to also make sure that we have a talented workforce in order to fill the jobs that are opening here.”

Running for the seat will preclude Carruthers from running for commissioner in 2022. Though the primary for the senate seat is May 3, Carruthers said he’ll continue to focus on commissioner work until the end of his term next year.

“One thing I don’t want to be as a quitter,” he said. “My priority is being a commissioner and finishing strong. We have a lot of momentum in Floyd County, got a lot of good things coming, and I want to see those things happen.”

Carruthers was the first Black man to be elected as a Floyd County Commissioner. If elected to the General Assembly, he would be the only Black Republican state senator in Indiana.

In recent weeks, Carruthers and his wife, Ann, have pushed new implicit bias training sessions meant to promote diversity in Floyd County’s government. He said he sees an opportunity for similar efforts in Indianapolis.

“It’s always an honor to be the first to do anything that you set out to do,” Carruthers said. “With that comes great responsibility and scrutiny, which I’m prepared for. But that’s not my reason for running for the senate, I’m running for the senate to represent all the people of District 46.”

Kevin Boehnlein of Greenville has also announced his candidacy for the senate seat, with the endorsement of Grooms.

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.