Commissioner Districts 1, 2 contested
Both the Democrat and Republican ballots for the May 3 Primary Election will have contested races for Harrison County Commissioner. For the Democrats, Ronnie Allen and Aaron B. Haggard are seeking their party’s nomination for the District 2 seat. The winner will square off in the fall against the Republican nominee, incumbent Kenneth Saulman or Anthony D. Dibble. The GOP also has a contested race for the District 1 seat currently held by George Ethridge, who is not seeking a second term. Charlie Crawford and Phil Smith are seeking the office. While the candidates must live in the district they are seeking, the office is voted on countywide. Here are the candidates’ responses to a questionnaire sent out by this newspaper.
Democrats, District 2
Name, age and residency: Ronnie Allen, 48, Corydon
Family: Divorced, father of 3 girls (Carissa, Tiffany and Sara) and 3 grandkids
Contact information for voters: 812-736-9338
Education/Occupation/Political experience: 12th grade CCHS, general contractor, first time to run
Why are you seeking the office and why should someone vote for you rather than your opponent (in 150 words or less)? I have watched what is going on in your county government, and I do believe that common sense has been lost. Our current government looks to help a few instead of the majority. I think it is time for someone to step up and give the majority what it needs instead of taking care of the few. I hope my opponents see these things as well and fight for the majority. The job of the commissioners is to take care of the needs of the majority. I would like to see the most people helped as possible for the greater good of Harrison County.
What do you see as the pressing issue(s) of District 2 and how would you address the issue(s) (in 200 words or less)? In the 21st century, more people have the opportunity to work from home. In Harrison County, we do not have this because of the lack of broadband. The largest contributor of tax revenue in the county suffers because of this also. We need to make more of an effort to provide broadband to all Harrison County residents so that more people can work from home and Horseshoe can host more events. We also have some road issues that need to be addressed. Corydon-New Middletown Road is the main road used to get to Horseshoe. This road is dangerous as is. We need to rebuild this road to handle more traffic at the same time making it safer. We need to do this in a timely manner so that we do not hurt the small businesses along this road.
Name, age and residency: Aaron B. Haggard, 40, Corydon
Family: Wife Carrie Haggard; 5 kids: Austin (13), Alyssa (9), Alanna (7) and identical twins Abby and Addy (1); parents Steve and Terri Haggard and Vernon and Cathy Mann; grandparents A.B. and Helen Haggard and Estel Lee and Mildred Parks
Contact information for voters: [email protected]; cell phone 812-225-1095; Facebook Aaron Haggard for Commissioner
Education/Occupation/Political experience: I am a Harrison County native, a college graduate from Indiana University Southeast and have over 13 years of business management experience for two Fortune 500 companies (Encompass and Masco) and started my own local successful small business.
Why are you seeking the office and why should someone vote for you rather than your opponent (in 150 words or less)? I am seeking the position of commissioner because I feel as though my experience dealing with multi-million-dollar budgets and managing personnel, along with dealing with corporate structure, will allow me to have an open mind and knowledge of what Harrison County needs and what we can change to improve our county. I am a public servant that brings a new generation of ideas to the table. I live by the adage Open Door policy. My cell phone number is available, and I will work hard to answer your calls as a priority. Leadership is not dictating; it is listening to the people of this county. I will work with Republicans as a team to end partisan government. This is why my campaign slogan is ‘We can do better.’ Two heads are better than one, so think of the great things WE can accomplish with collective ideas and teamwork, using our best assets, US.
What do you see as the pressing issue(s) of District 2 and how would you address the issue(s) (in 200 words or less)? The spending of taxpayers’ dollars is at an all-time high. Funds have been allocated to some areas that have an excess of money while other worthwhile programs/areas suffer. Example: our county highway garage. A new facility was needed, but we’ve spent $5.9 million-plus and are still spending. I have a problem when projects cost more than budgeted. Someone needs to be held accountable for how our money is used. The garage is not centrally located as it should be. With trucks and equipment throughout the county, the cost for fuel/extra drive time has to come from somewhere. Our county roads are in bad condition. I’ve been told we have a lot of money to spend, thanks to the riverboat, so we can afford to spend it. But do we need to spend it? If we’re going to spend it, let’s allocate more to roads and less on beautification. Our schools have Internet access and require children to check assignments and pull homework from online services. If you have cell phone service, you can pay for a hotspot, which is expensive with limited use. Why haven’t we established infrastructure for countywide Internet? Library substations are a start but still require a vehicle. Let’s find an affordable solution.
Republicans, District 2
Name, age and residency: Anthony D. Dibble, 35, Corydon
Family: Father Ted Dibble, mother Linda Dibble
Contact information for voters: 812-267-4137, [email protected]
Education/Occupation/Political experience: Spencer County (Ky.) High School, tool and dye manufacturing vocational school, 10 years self-employed custom sheet metal manufacturing
Why are you seeking the office and why should someone vote for you rather than your opponent (in 150 words or less)? I am seeking this office to put the county on a conservative, responsible and positive path and the right direction for the current and future generations. I have absolutely no ties, no baggage and no pressure from outside influences or private interests, unlike an opponent of mine. My opponent that is running for re-election has a track record that speaks for itself. I have full faith in the voters to do their homework and make the right choice on their own.
What do you see as the pressing issue(s) of District 2 and how would you address the issue(s) (in 200 words or less)? Making better education opportunities available to the people of all ages who seek it. The increase in traffic through the county is inevitable with the Joe Prather Highway connecting Hardin and Meade counties to the south, the new Interstate 69 to the west and the new bridges to the east. This traffic increase could be a major burden or highly beneficial to District 2. The new roads and bridges surrounding the county bring a lot of opportunities with them. It is best to take advantage of these opportunities with safety first in mind. Seeing this coming is key to dealing with it. Also, embracing the natural resources of the county for products that are in demand across the nation can and will give the county great economical strength in this ever-changing economy. Last, but not least, the elephant in the room, the county’s wasteful spending that only benefits a select few needs to be addressed. Too many outside private corporations see this county as easy profit if they line the right pockets.
Name, age and residency: Kenny Saulman, 73, Corydon
Family: Wife Naomi Saulman, daughter Pennie (Jesse), grandchildren Justin and Megan, daughter Pam (Mark) and grandchildren Chad and Ryan
Contact information for voters: Kenny Saulman, 2730 Pleasure Ridge Road SE, 812-267-2336
Education/Occupation/Political experience: CCHS graduate, retired, 16 years Harrison Township Trustee, 16 years Harrison County Council, 7-1/2 years County Commissioner
Why are you seeking the office and why should someone vote for you rather than your opponent (in 150 words or less)? Bringing new jobs to our county is always a pressing issue. As the interstate runs through District 2, there are many good sites for future businesses. We’ve expanded the sewer system and improved infrastructure at the Lanesville interchange, supported growth in the Corydon industrial park and behind Walmart. We now need to work to get businesses and jobs into these areas. High-speed Internet is another pressing issue. It’s not just nice to have; in today’s world, it’s a must-have part of infrastructure. By bringing a company like Mainstream here, the opportunity exists to get affordable high-speed Internet to the entire county. Mainstream is not the only solution, but it’s a great beginning. In the next four years, the county will face new issues we’re not even thinking of now. It’s important to have the knowledge and experience to address them effectively for our residents in the next four years.
What do you see as the pressing issue(s) of District 2 and how would you address the issue(s) (in 200 words or less)? I am running for re-election to finish the work I have started and to continue to work for a better Harrison County. I have a great deal of experience in county government, serving on the council and as county commissioner. We did not have riverboat money for much of that time, so I know how important it is that your tax dollars always be spent wisely. I am retired and have been able to serve full time as county commissioner. We have accomplished a lot over the past four years, working on roads, improving the way county government works and modernizing the highway department. I want to continue to push to bring jobs to our county, particularly by bringing businesses to the Lanesville interchange. We need to continue working to bring high-speed Internet to the entire county.
Republicans, District 1
Name, age and residency: Charlie Crawford, New Salisbury
Family: Wife Janie (married 55 years), daughter Debbie (principal in the South Bend school system), daughter Judy (owns daycare in LaPorte); we have three grandsons and two great-granddaughters
Contact information for voters: 812-946-1425
Education/Occupation/Political experience: Studied surveying at PNC and civil engineering at ICS; retired project engineer/senior construction supervisor/project manager at Bethlehem Steel in Chesterton with 36 years of construction management experience. I was elected to Morgan Township trustee advisory board in 2014.
Why are you seeking the office and why should someone vote for you rather than your opponent (in 150 words or less)? I have over 36 years of experience in engineering and project management, including road construction. Since retirement, I have organized 11 Lions Clubs in the area, have been a 30-year member of the Lions of Indiana and as the (Lions) governor in years 2004-2005. I was a member of the Harrison County Plan Commission for 16 years and currently serve on the Economic Development board. I helped establish Habitat for Humanity in Harrison County and was a charter board member. I am a member of the Pal Wow committee for the Pal Wow Festival in Palmyra, a lay minister in my church and a life-long ultra-marathon runner. I have a servant’s heart, am qualified and have the experience, energy and drive to be your next District 1 commissioner.
What do you see as the pressing issue(s) of District 1 and how would you address the issue(s) (in 200 words or less)? Since I started campaigning over a year ago, I have attended over 90 events and knocked on over 2,800 doors. In talking to the people, I have heard many concerns and issues. These include the need to bring good jobs into our community, the need for high-speed Internet, the paving ‘ or not paving ‘ of county roads and the establishment of fire districts. In the next four years, it is important that we keep county roads in good maintenance. Some people do not want their road paved or new roads built near them. Taxpayer funds must be spent wisely. We need to bring good-paying jobs to our community, but we should not sacrifice everything that makes our county a great place to live in doing so. We need to continue to push to bring high-speed Internet to the entire county. Fire districts need to be carefully studied. They may be a good idea for some areas of the county and not others, and input from citizens, township officials and fire departments are critical in that process. When new issues arise, it is important to hold conservative principles and to listen to the people, since good ideas can come from anyone.
Name, age, residency: Phil Smith, Depauw
Family: Wife Carletta, married 48 years; daughter Michele; grandsons Zachary and Jacob
Contact information for voters: Phone 812-267-6459; email [email protected]
Education/Occupation/Political experience: High school/retired business analyst; vice chairman of county council 4 years
Why are you seeking the office and why should someone vote for you rather than your opponent (in 150 words or less)? To provide a strong supportive voice for economic development in order to bring good paying jobs to Harrison County; to reduce the county’s portion of property taxes by working with the county council; and to establish comprehensive infrastructure, including road improvements, connector roads and access to high-speed Internet. Having served four years as vice chairman of the county council, I have an in-depth knowledge of how county government functions. This includes the financial impact of funding requests sent to the county council, thereby ensuring that our tax dollars and riverboat money are spent wisely.
What do you see as the pressing issue(s) of District 1 and how would you address the issues(s) (in 200 words or less)? I believe District 1 is affected by the same issues as the rest of the county, namely: Good paying jobs ‘ The competition to bring business to a location in today’s environment is very intense. We must continue to invest in economic development to provide as many options as possible to attract business to our county. I will support tax abatements, shell buildings, road improvements, high-speed Internet, quality adult education and improved workforce training. High-speed Internet ‘ Because of the limited access to high-speed Internet, people are prevented from getting good high-paying jobs working at home; businesses are discouraged from locating in Harrison County; and students are unable to take advantage of all the opportunities available to improve their education. I will support the current project to get high-speed Internet access throughout the county.