A political forum was held Wednesday evening at the Clay County Fairgrounds. The Forum drew a much larger crowd than expected, over 100 people turned out for the event, according to Farm Bureau members in attendance. It was an excellent opportunity for voters to meet their candidates and enabled them to hear candidates answer important questions, which were submitted by individuals in attendance.
Bray and Sczerbik
The evening began with candidates State Sen. Richard Bray and challenger Kristin Szczerbik. Szczerbik, wife and mother of two, has experience with the judicial system, she is a former member of the FBI. She stated, "everyday, things that we do are affected by the State Legislature." Richard Bray, the incumbent and Republican was asked a question dealing with the Federal no child left behind mandate.
He responded by discussing budgetary issues facing the state.
"The state is over one billion dollars in debt there isn't enough money in the budget for an all day kindergarten program."
He did state, however, that almost half of the state's budget goes towards education.
LaPlante and Tincher
The most heated candidate pair of the evening was Brooks LaPlante and Vern Tincher, candidates for State Representative, District 46. LaPlante, who is currently not on the ballot for the Nov. 2 election, awaiting court ruling, was given the opportunity to speak. He opted to forego the one-minute personal introduction and jump straight to the attack. He attacked Vern Tincher and the Democratic party on issues of gay marriage and the state deficit. He said that the Democratic Party is fiscally irresponsible and he is in favor of a spending cap piece for the State of Indiana.
Tincher, who was defeated by LaPlante in 2002 stated, "In 1996 the state legislation passed a bill saying that marriage is between a man and a woman. Why do we need to bring it back up?"
He is for traditional marriage but said homosexuals and lesbians should not be denied their rights.
Thomas and Wolfe
State Rep. Andy Thomas, District 44, and challenger Eric Wolfe were asked how would they bring money to the county.
"We need to bring the money back home," said Thomas.
A question posed to the pair asked them to state their views on abolishing property tax.
Wolfe stated that he would be against abolishing property tax.
"To do away with property tax at the current time would be fiscally irresponsible," he said. "The property tax is the most stable tax that we have in this state it draws in $5 billion in revenue."
Thomas the incumbent co-sponsored a bill that resulted in $686,000 less money for Hamilton County and that much more for Clay County. When asked about property tax he said, "I am more in favor of income tax, if you have a good year you can spare a little bit more, I know farmers that are paying $100,000 dollars in tax, when the farmers have a bad year they still have to pay their property tax, reguardless. We will slowly chip it away property tax."
Stewart and Brown
On the local level, Commissioner hopefuls District 2 hopefuls Jeff Stewart and Charlie Brown discussed issues that are facing the county. They were both asked how they felt on planning and rezoning.
They were in agreement; they feel that it can be beneficial to the county to zone, but there need to be proper planning before hand.
They were also in agreement dealing with the issue of how the county would fund a countywide library. They are both in favor but they feel that a property tax increase is not the correct way to fund the venture.
The two also agreed on the issue of placing a waste transfer station near the intersection of I-70 and S.R. 59.
"That is the area that I would like to see grow and prosper, that area is an untapped resourcee and I don't want to see garbage on it," said Stewart.
Parr and Deakins
The other commissioners race is between District 1 Democrat incumbent David Parr and Republican Brian Deakins.
The two differed in some areas.
They were asked about ambulance service in the county.
They agreed that there should be a paramedic on each ambulance, but Deakins said the commissioners had an opportunity to attain service last year and the commissioners didn't do their job.
Deakins feels that the issue surrounding a trash transfer station can't be overlooked.
"I think the transfer station is surrounded by rumor. I, as commissioner, would visit another station to view its operation. It can bring 50 to 60 jobs to the county. We cant turn our backs on that."
Individuals running for county council are incumbents Warren Stevenson and Mark Dierdorf and hopeful Guy Dickerson. They all agreed when asked, "Teach us in 90 second or less about the office that you running for."
They all stated the Council is responsible for the budget and to approve or dissapove spending proposed by the commissioners.
"The councilmen do the dirty work, I work for you and I'm proud to do it," stated Dierdorf.
Next were candidates in the race for County Surveyor.
John Keller, a licensed surveyor, says its an asset to have a someone licensed in the office.
"The county has been hiring me to do work for them, that why I'm running, to save the county money," stated Keller.
Arron Royer, running for Surveyor on the Democrat ticket, has been involved with real estate and dealing with surveyors for over 30 years.
"I don't want someone to run their personal business out of the surveyors office," he said. "That's what has happened in the past."
Angie Modesitt, running for Recorder, gave a short speech.
Incumbent Bill Purcell was not at the Forum due to an apparent misunderstanding.
Purcell said this morning he was no invited. His name was not supplied to The Times by Daryl Andrews, organizer of the forum. However, Andrews said today that Purcell was invited but said he could not attend.