Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Three vie for GOP County Commissioner nod

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

In one of the biggest races of the 2014 primary, candidates Jeff Good and William LaFever are challenging incumbent Nancy Adams for the Porter County Commissioner Center District seat on the Republican ballot.

Early voting has already begun in the county. Primary Election Day is on Tuesday, Mary 6.

Commissioner races are voted on countywide, not just in their respective districts.

The Center District is the only Commissioner race this election year. The North and South District seats will be up in 2016.

The Chesterton Tribune invited all three candidates to respond to a questionnaire.

The Tribune set word limits for each question and reserved the right to cut off any response in excess to the limit.

1. Age, place of residency, occupation

Adams: 52, City of Valparaiso, Porter County Commissioner

Good: 53, City of Valparaiso, President of Good Hospitality Services Inc.

LaFever: 46, Union Twp., Sales

2. To Adams: What are your accomplishments in office and why should the voters re-elect you to it? To Good and LaFever: What are your qualifications for this office and why should the voters unseat the incumbent for you? (150 words)

Adams: We revamped 911 and implemented new policies as well as creating a board of fire chiefs to know when there are any problems. Workforce One was given $150,000 by the Commissioners for continuing the GED program for Porter County. I implemented a new copier purchase agreement with all the departments. Before they had to receive three bids and bring it to the Commissioners before purchasing a copier. Now we have one vendor and they call our IT director. The vendor goes to their office and determines the copier they need. They set up the fax through the copier and the ability to print their documents and they have their copiers in two weeks instead of two or three months. They save quite a bit of money. The most important part of my job is listening not talking. Thatís why I should be re-elected. Last, Iíve helped renovate the Animal Shelter.

Good: Many of the duties of a County Commissioner are very similar in experience as to what I do every day in my own business. These duties include asset management, budget preparation and analysis, building maintenance, storm drainage maintenance and construction, technology, real estate valuation, human resources, health insurance oversight and cost analysis, problem solving, and the ability to use common sense in the decision-making process. I have served as the Porter County Appointment to the Regional Development Authority the past three years and currently serve as the Chairman of the Economic Development Working Group. I also served on the Porter County Jobs Cabinet in 2013.

LaFever: Iím not afraid to fight for the people of Porter County. Iím not part of the clique. I stand to gain nothing but to serve the people of this county and do what is right for the people. I will voice your concerns as my own. I spent 13 years with Indiana Department of Transportation and four years on Union Township School Board which gave me a lot of knowledge in contracts, budgets and laws.

3. What are the key issues in this race? (150 words)

Adams: The first issue is to have a balanced budget. The second issue is economic development. The third issue is collaboration no matter what party you are affiliated with. The only way any of these things are going to be taken care of is if there is cooperation and collaboration. All officials must be able to have an open mind and listen to what people are saying. God gave you two ears and one mouth so you can listen twice as much as you speak.

Good: I believe the primary issues facing the county today are as follows; finding a responsible solution to the large deficit currently suffocating the countyís general fund, a workable solution for responsibly fixing our animal shelter, development of a financial plan to thoughtfully manage and protect the Hospital proceeds, implementing a responsible bidding process for all county contracts, developing a complete plan for the deferred maintenance of all county assets such as storm-water drainage, county buildings, vehicles, county roads and the development of a County Human Resource Manager for a more comprehensive oversight of all personnel issues.

LaFever: Serving the public. They deserve a commissioner who will call them back, return emails and one who has no conflict of interest.

4. How can the Commissioners help close the county budget gap? (100 words)

Adams: The commissioners have done quite a bit. We have committed $8 million over the next 3 years to help with the budget. We have covered E911 and have covered the insurance. But there needs to be collaboration from everyone and homework done on how we can reduce the budget to give the people of Porter County the services they deserve.

Good: State law mandates that Commissioners must work with all units of government to review all department budgets along with the County Council. This includes improving communications with the county council so that the Commissioners can assist the council with developing better financial reporting mechanisms. In addition, a detailed 3-year plan must be developed to assist in future forecasting of the Countyís operational needs. This 3-year plan will also be a key document that will assist in defining the use of the hospital sale proceeds.

LaFever: Elect me as commissioner and Iíd work with County Council by attending their meetings and moving Commissionerís meetings to the evenings so taxpayers can be better informed. As of now, Commissionerís meetings are during the day, when taxpayers are working and are unable to be involved. Perhaps this was their plan. I have understanding of contracts. You donít elect someone who is in Hospitality services in the planning of government funds, building projects, road projects, and taxes when their background is food. My background is construction, sales and public service and past budgeting of Union Township School Corporation.

5. Do you support using the county income tax to support the general fund? (75 words)

Adams: I do not support using the county income tax to support the general fund, because it is an economic development tax and should be used to support bringing jobs to the county. Unfortunately we were forced to help with bridging the gap on the budget. Itís a dangerous road to go down if units of government use CEDIT funds to operate each year.

Good: I do not support using County Income Tax to support the general fund. All efforts must be exhausted for cost controls first before this discussion takes place. With a 3-year plan going forward each year it will be much easier to discuss the countyís financial needs.

LaFever: I hate increasing any taxes, but since there is already a tax in place it should go into the general fund and used as needed.

6. Do you support using the interest money from the hospital sale to support the general fund? (75 words)

Adams: I do not support using interest money, because again it is a dangerous road to go down using funds that most units of government do not have to support the general fund. What would the county do when there are no funds left? We need to do our homework and figure out how we can stay within the budget the state has given us.

Good: I do not support using interest from the hospital sale proceeds to fund the countyís General Fund. All efforts must first be exhausted in order to control costs of all of county government going forward. Working together with the council to accomplish this task should be our primary initiative at this time.

LaFever: So long as the money is used to lower the tax burden.

7. Do you support the creation of a County Human Resources Department?

Why or why not? (125 words)

Adams: I am in total support of a human resource department. We need an individual or up to three individuals that can fairly and uniformly administer policies set forth by the commissioners. There will need to be the ability to efficiently help a new employee with their paperwork when they begin their job. It will show that the County is a great place to work by implementing these procedures effectively.

Good: I do support a County Human Resource Manager. I currently own a company that oversees 425 employees and cannot imagine running any enterprise this size without this position. With all the changing work rules that have been hoisted upon all employers over the past six years by the federal government, it has become extremely burdensome and complicated. It must not only be done to protect the county but in as much to protect our employeesí rights as well.

LaFever: That depends on the law because most departments are elected and each elected official has the right to run the department according to the statuary requirement of Indiana. This is a big decision. Who is in charge, the elected official or Porter County?

8. Do you support a tax increment finance district along US 6 in Liberty Township? (125 words)

Adams: Yes, I support a tax increment finance district along U.S. 6. By not having a tax increment district, there will be no economic development. Businesses will not want to locate on U.S. 6 because of the traffic and no ability to exit off. Without the TIF, the County will not be able to do the improvements that are necessary, which will hurt the potential of additional taxes along that corridor, because there needs to be infrastructure taken care of with the widening of U.S. 6.

Good: I do support some form of incentive zone for the U.S. 6 area in Liberty Township. With that said, we need to insure that our schools and emergency services are protected financially for preparation of proper growth of the area. Attention also needs to be paid to the traffic flow and road sizing of this area so it is safe and easy to navigate through.

LaFever: No. Tax money should be used for the whole county. Why would you put non-elected people in charge of taxes? Thatís why government is set up the way it has been for years. Let the people vote the officials in and they decide and if you donít like the results vote them out.

9. The FBI has requested and received documents from a variety of county departments. What are your thoughts about the FBIís interest in county government?

Adams: We are willing to cooperate with anything the FBI needs. If we find there is anything we have done incorrectly, we will be more than willing to correct the item and find a more efficient way of doing business. We must always remember that by listening, we can find more efficient ways to run county government. There is always an opportunity to improve and I am working hard to get that done.

Good: I do not feel I can speculate on the reasoning behind any request from the FBI, but with that said, every step should be taken to ensure the publicís trust.

LaFever: Apparently, there have been backdoor dealings. You donít spend over $100,000 on a campaign for a job that pays $37,000 a year. I have nothing to gain. Check my disclosure form. Iím not part of the same LLC as the other candidates.

 

Posted 4/8/2013