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GOP needs to focus on leadership, getting out the vote, Shickles says

Calling 2006 an ‘important election year,’ Larry Shickles, chair of the Harrison County Republican Central Committee, said the GOP needs to show residents here that the party intends to continue to bring leadership to the elected offices.
‘We need to recruit good candidates and get out and register people,’ Shickles said to about 80 people who gathered Saturday evening at Old Capitol United Methodist Church in Corydon for the ‘2006 Outlook Dinner.’ ‘We ask you tonight to help us carry the torch into the next election.’
He said the Democrats apparently have no clue why they are losing elections. Instead of talking about issues, they continue to bring up Shickles’ residency.
Referring to a recent Our Readers Write in this newspaper (‘From tax breaks to tax bills, Dems see many issues’ by Mark Redden, the Democratic Party chair in Harrison County), Shickles said he’s come to the conclusion that the Democrats don’t have anything else to talk about.
‘I’m waiting for the day they start running on concerns,’ Shickles said. ‘I’m merely a political leader … I love nothing more than to be their decoy.’
Shickles said he thought this newspaper had laid to rest any controversy over where he lives, and that there is no residency requirement for the party chair, in a story in the past year. It said he was denied a homestead tax credit for his property in Harrison County because his wife receives that same credit for property in Lawrence County.
Republicans have ‘given Harrison County the strongest government we’ve had in a long time,’ Shickles said.
Currently, the GOP has the majority on both the county council and the board of commissioners. Several other courthouse offices are controlled by Republicans, including the assessor, circuit court clerk, coroner, surveyor and circuit court judge.
Shickles encouraged Republicans to consider running for office. The first day for filing as a candidate for a major political party primary nomination is Jan. 18. The deadline to file is Feb. 14.
While talking about registering people to vote, Shickles said it’s also important to follow up with them to make sure they vote.
‘A whole lot of elections were won by one vote at a time in 2004,’ he said. ‘So if someone thinks it won’t matter if they go to the poll, one vote does count.’
Shickles challenged everyone to register 10 new voters between now and the May 2 Primary.
Also at the dinner, J.R. Eckart, who chairs the Harrison County Board of Commissioners, gave a state-of-the-county address.
Among the good news is the county was able to hold off ‘a pirate’s raid’ of the riverboat revenue it receives from Caesars Indiana.
‘We continue to be a community where the latchdoor key is hung on the outside of the door,’ he said, a phrase former Corydon Capital State Historic Site curator Helen Reas used when she talked to him about the history of the community. ‘Harrison County basically thrives because of the people … ‘
The animal control facility is up and running; ground was broken for the new Harrison County Hospital; a task force is looking at ways to help preserve farmland, forests and open spaces; a port authority has been established to look at other means of transportation besides highways, and a sewer district board is nearly formed to address the ‘health and growth’ of the county.
Everything’s not totally rosy, though. Eckart said the county needs to address the loss of jobs, following the closing of Keller Manufacturing and Tower Automotive, and reduce the ‘brain drain’ that continues to be a problem for most Hoosier communities. Another concern is the ever-growing production of the illegal and deadly drug methamphetamine. ‘We need to get that out of our county,’ he said.
One way to help solve these concerns to get strong support at the state level, something that’s been missing since Frank L. O’Bannon died while in the governor’s office in 2003, Eckart said.
‘We need to try to keep Harrison County a place that the latchstring is on the outside of the door,’ he said.
Chris Crabtree, the deputy chief of staff for Indiana Ninth District Congressman Mike Sodrel, spoke for his boss. Sodrel had planned to attend the Outlook dinner until a trip to Iraq was rescheduled and interfered.
Sodrel, who was instrumental in securing federal highway money for a new Interstate 64 interchange west of Corydon and funding to repair the Olympic-size pool at the Harrison-Crawford State Forest, is scheduled to be in Harrison County on Nov. 30 to talk about Medicare.
The meal for the evening was prepared by Edith and Calvin Davis. Tom Powers led the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Rev. Ethan Maple gave the invocation.