Friday, October 15, 2004

Chamber of Commerce Meet the Candidates Night - October 14, 2004

State Candidates:
Bob Bischoff -D – State rep Dist-68
Robert Hoffman- R – State rep Dist-55
John Marcum – L – State rep Dist-55

County Commissioners:
Allen (Mooch) Calloway – D- Commissioner D-1
Jeff Hughes – R – Commissioner D-1
Rick Fox – R – Commissioner D-2
Al Werner – D – Commissioner D-2

County Council-at-large (3 positions)
Charlie Fehrman – R – Council- at-large
Mark Mitter – R- Council- at-large
Doug Taylor – D- Council- at-large
Ben Turner – D - Council- at-large
Bill Ullrich – R - Council- at-large
Richard Ullrich- D- Council- at-large

Wesley Holt- R

Leo Clippenger - Campaign Mgr. for Baron Hill- D – US rep – Dist 9 (800.892.3232)

The candidates had a brief statement read by the Moderator listing their qualifications and background. They were then asked prepared questions, with a short rebuttal by their opponent.

The candidates had several recurring themes. The Candidates kept talking about the US 50 problems. Most deplored the problem; but, did not not know how to attack the problem much less solve it. Doug Taylor heavily backed the US 50 bypass. All felt something needed to be done. Mr. Clippenger indicated Baron Hill was trying to work with INDOT to obtain more funding to study the problem.

Several candidates talked about the County master plan, felt is was good, " a living document". They also talked about the "upside down" tax structure, where Dearborn County's tax base is largely residential. Most want industry brought into the County; but, did not have a plan to accomplish it. Mr. Clippenger indicated Baron Hill was working to attract bio-tech life science industry to the County.

The negative impact of residential development was discussed by the candidates. The potential loss of gambling revenue was mentioned and the concern for the potential loss of revenue. Several of the candidates Council indicated the negative budget impact of the loss of gaming revenue would be disastrous for the County. Bob Bischoff indicated he would be trying to prevent the State Legislature from siphoning off gaming funds from the local to help pay the State budget deficit.

Messers. Fox and Hughes referred several times to "property owners rights" and the need to protect them. None has defined what they mean by property owners rights. Do they mean freedom to sell property for any use in spite of zoning restrictions, or freedom from eminent domain or?

Many of the candidates are neophytes (except for the incumbent County Council candidates) and most seem to have a superficial knowledge of the working of government, economics and management.

The program did not provide a good basis to make candidate selection easy. More information is needed on the background and goals of the candidates. The local press should do more in depth reporting on the candidates to help the voter make the right choice.

Ralph Thompson, Jr., PE, CPE
Citizen of Dearborn County

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