Democrats to determine 3 council nominees
Four district seats are on the ballot for Harrison County Council, the body that holds the county’s purse strings. Candidates must live in the district they seek to represent and are elected by voters in their respective districts.
District One Councilman Alvin Brown plans to retire from the council this year. Thomas Casper and Leslie Robertson will be competing for the nomination of Brown’s Democratic Party. The winner will go up against Bill Watts who is unapposed in the primary.
Democrats Robert Morris and William Nichols are running for the opportunity to challenge Gary Davis, the unopposed council chair, in the fall for the Second District.
District Three Councilman Kenneth Saulman also plans to retire from the council. Democrats J. Gordon Pendleton and John Proctor will be competing for the nomination of their party. The Republican Party has until July 3 to appoint a candidate to run for Saulman’s seat for the general election.
Democrat Matt Hubler and incumbent Republican Ralph Sherman are both unopposed in the primary race for the District Four seat.
District 1 race pits newcomer and former school board member
BY JO ANN SPIETH-SAYLOR
Two Democrats are seeking the District 1 seat of the Harrison County Council that is being vacated by Alvin Brown, who has served three terms (one at-large and two for the district).
Thomas Casper and Leslie Robertson hope to represent their party in the General Election. The winner will square off against Republican candidate Bill Watts, who is unopposed in the May 2 Primary.
The District 1 seat represents Blue River, Morgan and Spencer townships in the northwest part of Harrison County.
Casper, 51, of New Salisbury, was born in Louisville and graduated from Saint Xavier, a private Catholic high school in Louisville, in 1972. He spent a lot of time in the Crandall area, working on the Casper-Slayton Farm, a hog, cattle and grain operation.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and ag economics in 1977 from the University of Kentucky. After graduation, he was a manager one year for a beef cattle operation in Danville, Ky., before joining Swift & Co., his current employer, as a hog buyer.
‘I have operated my current operation, Ghostland Livestock, since 1978,’ he said. ‘I have managed several buying stations throughout Southern Indiana and Kentucky for Armour and now (the) Swift company.’
This is the first time Casper has run for public office.
‘I had a whole lot of people ask me to,’ he said of his decision to seek office.
He believes he knows the concerns of the residents from ‘listening to many farmers, business people, doctors, lawyers, construction workers, factory workers, senators and congressmen that I have done business with over the years,’ he said.
If elected, Casper said he wants to ‘keep the county moving forward in a positive direction.’
He said the council should keep the needs of all the communities and Harrison County in mind when making decisions. Council members should not make decisions for themselves but for all the people, he said.
Casper said he won’t ‘promise the moon’ if he’s elected to serve, but he will try to make decisions ‘for the betterment of the community.’
One concern of his is money that’s been wasted ‘by basically our leaders not following up on things.’ Specifically he mentioned the building and widening of roads. ‘They need to do them right,’ Casper said. ‘We’re throwing money away if it’s not done right.’
He’s also interested in bringing industry to the county although he’s aware that not every type of industry is welcome by everyone. ‘We have to be acceptable of them when they want to come,’ he said.
As possible uses of the old hospital are discussed, Casper said those types of decisions ‘should be made by people who have at least a little bit of experience’ in renovation and structural soundness.
When asked why someone should vote for him, Casper replied, ‘A vote for me is a vote for themselves.’
Casper is a 4-H leader (Hoosier Stockmen), a 4-H council member, a board member for the Agricultural Extension, board member and vice president of Harrison County Farm Bureau, board member of the Harrison County Cattleman’s Association, member and past president of the Purdue Council on Agricultural Research, and served on the Harrison County Advisory Plan Commission.
He and his wife, Katy, have a daughter, Claira, who is a junior at Providence High School in Clarksville.
Casper can be reached by phone at 347-3128.
Robertson, 47, of Depauw, was born at Harrison County Hospital and has lived in the county most of her life. The former Leslie Fink, she is a 1976 graduate of Corydon Central High School, and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1994 from Indiana University. Before staying home to raise a family, Robertson worked as the executive assistant to the president of Baptist Hospital East in Louisville and was assistant secretary to the board of directors.
‘My experience has taught me that it is important to be available to people and listen to their concerns,’ Robertson said. ‘As their council representative, I will be open to listening to my constituents and be an outspoken advocate for my district.’
While this is Robertson’s first bid for county office, she was elected in a non-partisan race to serve on the North Harrison Community School Corp. School Board of Trustees from 1996 to 2004.
‘I felt like (running for council) was the next step in my community involvement and civic duty,’ she said. ‘I had been considering it for a while.’
In preparation of the election, Robertson has been talking to voters, going door-to-door and to events, advertising, putting up signs and will do a mailing.
She believes her past community involvement helps qualify her to serve on the council. ‘I’ve had the opportunity to work with budgets and financial statements,’ she said. ‘My degree in political science helps me understand how government works … I’ve had the opportunity to learn to work with a lot of different people. I’ve been given insight to different ways of looking at things.’
Robertson presently serves on several boards and commissions, including the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana, Governor’s Commission for a Drug-Free Indiana (she’s a past president and vice president), 4Community ‘ Partners for a Drug-Free Harrison County, Harrison County Alternative School and St. Bernard Church’s St. Rita Altar Society. Besides serving as a former school trustee, she has served on the YMCA of Harrison County board, the Harrison County Swim and Dive Team (was president and treasurer), Harrison County Metro United Way advisory board and the Harrison County Hospital Foundation.
With Harrison County’s unemployment rate looming at 6.7 percent in December, Robertson said the council will have to work with other county offices to attract jobs.
She said with proper infrastructure in place, such as good roads and the proposed regional sewer district, the county will continue to grow. That growth needs to attract businesses to help pick up the loss of industry the county’s faced.
After a close call last year by the state that would have taken about $19 million of Harrison County’s riverboat money, Robertson wants to ensure that the county retains its revenue generated by Caesars Indiana. ‘I don’t want to lose that money,’ she said.
Robertson is also concerned what will become of the hospital building once the new one is completed, but she says it’s the role of the county commissioners to recommend possible uses to the council. ‘We need to get involved in the process and find out more about it,’ she said. ‘I’m not sure what’s appropriate (to use it for) at this time.’
While campaigning, Robertson has heard a lot of feedback about the land preservation issue facing the county. ‘I’ve talked with a lot of people who are not for it,’ she said. ‘There is great concern about it.’
Robertson said she ‘has a lot of time to devote to being a council person.
‘I’ll give 100 percent, and I’m willing to do the research needed to do a good job,’ she said. ‘I’ll listen to the people’s concerns, then make the best informed decision I can make.’
She and her husband, Larry, have a grown daughter and another daughter, Stacy, who is a senior at North Harrison High School.
Robertson can be reached by phone at 347-3290 or by e-mail at [email protected]
Campaign veterans Morris-Nichols vie for District 2 party nod
BY JO ANN SPIETH-SAYLOR
Two men are seeking the Democratic bid in next month’s Primary Election for the District 2 seat on the Harrison County Council.
Robert H. (Bob) Morris and William T. (Bill) Nichols hope to represent their party in the General Election. The winner will face Republican candidate Gary Davis, the incumbent, who is unopposed in the May 2 Primary.
The District 2 seat represents Franklin and Jackson townships in the northeast part of Harrison County.
Morris, 51, was born in New Albany and is a lifelong resident of Harrison County. He now lives in New Salisbury, which is in Jackson Township. He is a 1973 graduate of North Harrison High School and has been employed as a meat cutter with the Kroger Co. for 32 years.
‘I’ve always been interested in politics,’ said Morris, who represented Jackson Township on the North Harrison Community School Corp. Board of Trustees for eight years, from 1994 to 2002. So when he was asked to run for an at-large seat on the county council two years ago, he agreed.
Morris finished fifth out of six candidates in that primary. His campaigning opportunities were limited due to hip surgery a few weeks prior to the election. ‘I felt like I got my name out there, though,’ he said.
This go-round he’s going door-to-door, making contacts with people and putting out signs.
If elected, Morris said, ‘I would work for the people of the townships, to make sure they have a voice on worthwhile projects that come before the council. And, I’ll never forget where I came from in representing those people.’
Morris said the proposed sewer districts for the county ‘will be one of the biggest challenges we’re going to face.
‘There are a lot of questions to be asked, especially in regard to hook-ups,’ he said. At the top of the list, he said, is whether residents will be required to hook on to the system, and he said he’s concerned about the cost those on fixed incomes may be facing if they are required to tap into the sewer system.
‘We need to investigate this fully before we start requiring people to hook up,’ he said.
Another concern Morris said the council will be facing is what to do with the old hospital once the new facility is open in a couple of years.
‘Everyone ought to put their heads together to determine what to do with it,’ Morris said. ‘If something doesn’t go in there, there will be problems for the taxpayers.’
With the ever-growing methamphetamine problem, Morris favors putting any extra available resources to combating that drug situation, which ‘ruins so many lives,’ he said.
The lack of an animal control facility, which had haunted the county for a couple of decades, was laid to rest last year when a facility opened in the Harrison County Industrial Park. Morris is pleased that was accomplished but he would like to see some ‘tweaking’ done, in the area of staffing and hours, to improve the center.
Morris is also concerned about the county’s unemployment rate. ‘Harrison County’s rate is probably higher now than it has been,’ he said, because of circumstances such as the closing of Tower Automotive and Keller Manufacturing. ‘It’s hurt.
‘We need to do everything we can to get new businesses to the county, to get Harrison Countians to work,’ he said, adding that the county will continue to grow, as it is ‘a wonderful place to live.’
Morris is a union steward for United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 227 in Louisville, is a member of Corydon Moose Lodge 2493, serves on the scholarship committee at North Harrison and is a former president of the North Harrison High School Band Boosters.
He and his wife, the former Virginia Purcell, have three grown children.
Morris can be reached by phone at 347-2342 or by e-mail at rhmo[email protected]
Nichols, 68, was born in Louisville and lives in Lanesville, which is in Franklin Township. He is a 1956 graduate of the old Elizabeth High School and is semi-retired from his own business, Nichols Trucking and Excavating Co., which he started in 1983. He worked 16 years as a mechanic for Louisville Motor Ford and was a diesel mechanic 14 years at Whayne Supply.
This is not his first attempt at local politics. Nichols ran for county commissioner in 1996 and 2000, and in 2002, he ran for the District 2 council seat, beating his challenger in the primary and losing to Republican Gary Davis in the fall.
‘I lost by 68 votes,’ Nichols said. ‘I want to give it another shot.’
His campaign strategy includes posting signs, talking to people and going door to door.
Nichols said he wants to see the residents of Franklin and Jackson townships ‘have fair representation on the council.’ He said he would do ‘what the people want (if elected). I’m not there to do what I want to do.’
He said most the issues that have been pressing the council in the past few years, like the animal control facility, have been settled.
‘The only issue I see on the burner right now is what to do with the old hospital’ once the new one is completed, he said.
‘I don’t have an answer for that at this time,’ he said, but he would investigate relocating the remaining offices that are in the County Annex Building, which is prone to flooding, to the facility on Atwood Street once it’s vacated in a couple of years.
Other possibilities include expanding the Harrison County Lifelong Learning program, which Nichols has been involved with since it was started in 2000 (he serves on its board of directors). Relocating the HCLL center to the old hospital would allow room to offer more programs, he said.
‘They offer nurses training, welding, computers, GEDs,’ Nichols said. ‘There’s still room for a lot more.’
Nichols, who wasn’t pleased with the county council’s decision to loan the Lanesville Community School Corp. money to replace its elementary school gym roof rather than give them the money ‘ ‘It was an emergency situation,’ Nichols said ‘ would like to see more of the county’s riverboat funds that are designated for education be used.
‘They have it for that, they should use it,’ he said, adding that they don’t have to use it all but more could be allocated among the three public school corporations.
Nichols said he is qualified to serve on the council because of his experience of running his own business and the knowledge he’s gained serving on several boards. Besides the Lifelong Learning board, Nichols also is a former president and board member of Harrison County Farm Bureau, advisory board member for Franklin Township Farm Bureau and a member of the South Harrison Water Co. board.
He is married to the former Jane Schmitt. They have two deceased children.
Nichols can be reached at 952-2753.
Longtime business, civic leader faces new voice in District 3
BY CHARLES S. EWRY
Corydon residents J. Gordon Pendleton and John Proctor will be competing for the Democratic nomination to fill the District 3 (Harrison Township) seat being vacated by Republican Kenneth Saulman’s retirement.
There is no GOP challenger thus far, but the party has until July 3 to appoint a candidate for the general election.
Pendleton, 72, is widely known for the 38 years he spent as CEO of the bank that was formerly First Federal Savings & Loan before merging to become First Harrison Bank. He retired in 2000.
His years of financial experience, service on various boards and lifelong residency in Harrison County would be an asset, Pendleton said.
The duties of a county councilman are clear, he said. ‘We take care of raising money and approve the spending of money, and we’re not supposed to be commissioners.’
Initiating issues, he said, should be left to the commissioners as the county’s administrative body.
The Ball State University graduate is a former member of the Indiana State School Board, South Harrison Community School Board, Leadership Louisville Bingham Fellows, Corydon Jaycees, Harrison County Extension Advisory Board, Harrison County Hospital Needs Study Committee and U.S. Army Medical Corps.
He is a current member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Harrison County Economic Development Board, Harrison County Community Foundation, Corydon Rotary Club, Masonic Lodge of Corydon, Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County, Corydon Millennium Committee, Corydon Year 2008 Committee, Board of Directors of Capital Courts Housing Units and the Foundation Committee for Lifelong Learning.
Proctor, 24, said he may be young and not have the experience of his opponent, but he’s willing to learn from the election and ‘bring a new voice with fresh ideas to Harrison County.’
‘I’m a completely honest person, sometimes too honest because I’ll speak my mind,’ Proctor said.
Though he has long had an interest in politics, it was two years ago that he decided to gain some first-hand experience in the political arena.
‘Last election, it seemed like the same people were always running. I wanted to run to get fresh blood and fresh ideas in just one of the parties,’ Proctor said.
One of Proctor’s main interests is job creation in Harrison County, and he said the council seemed to be one of the best offices for promoting that. While supportive of pro-job initiatives, he said he does not support abatements that amount to tax exemption.
Proctor is a graduate of North Harrison High School and has attended Indiana University Southeast in New Albany.
A Wal-Mart sales associate, Proctor deals with all different types of customers and said he will go the extra mile for customer satisfaction.