6 seek 3 at-large seats on the county council
Six candidates — three Democrats and three Republicans — are vying for three at-large seats on the Harrison County council. The top three vote getters will serve a four-year term. The current at-large council members are Sherry Brown and Richard Gerdon, who are not seeking re-election, and Jim Heitkemper, who lost his bid for re-election in a seven-person Republican race in the May Primary.
Voters throughout the county can vote for three of the six candidates. Those voters who cast a straight-party ticket need to remember that a straight-party vote will not include a vote for any of the at-large council candidates.
Below are the candidates’ responses to a questionnaire from this newspaper.
Name and age: Sandy Gettelfinger, 65
Residency: 2775 Zoar Church, Corydon
Family: Married: Richard; children: Belinda (Jeannie) (Mike), Chad (Renee), Christina (Valentin); 17 grandchildren: Rachel, Payton, Coleman, Abram, Caleb, Eve, Gabriel, Isaiah, Kenan, Mica, Oren, Quartus, Samson, Uriah, Winona, Benny and Evelyn
Education/Occupation/Political experience: College/Entrepreneur/No prior political experience
Why are you seeking the office (in 100 words or less)? As all parents and grandparents, I want our county to offer a safe environment to raise our families and provide equal opportunities for college and/or vocational advancement. I support any effort that will provide an environment that attracts sound commercial development. I believe this county has fundamental values of faith and family. I desire to make sure there is a balance in governmental expenditures which reflect these values. I believe that we need to do more than be a voice of the people; we need to be advocates of sustainable change for the people. I am that candidate.
What qualifies you for the office (in 150 words or less)? For the past 30 years, I have been business manager for our family business. My husband, Richard, and I have built our business from scratch and made critical adjustments to maintain growth, even through the recession, and realize more than ever the need to remain within one’s budget. I believe as important as my business experience is, I feel my participation in many of our county’s organizations has provided a valuable insight into the social needs of the our county as well and has prepared me for addressing these needs in a balanced and responsible manner. Having experienced many different financial situations myself, I am prepared to review every proposal with return on investment as my foundation. I am determined to protect your money.
With the new county highway garage completed, what one or two projects do you think the county should address next that you would support funding and why (in 150 words or less)? If we are going to compete in today’s economies, we simply must secure broadband for our entire county. I know there are obstacles to overcome, but I will continue to support, and vote to fund, the expansion of high-speed Internet. We really have no choice if we are to remain innovative, relevant and competitive. I am also convinced that educational opportunities for everyone is critical in maintaining a vibrant and qualified workforce. I would support the vision of a vocational center where our young people, and adults, could learn specific skills and prepare to join an ever-changing workforce. I believe this vision would include partnering with corporations to develop programs, which would provide hands-on experience. A qualified workforce will attract new business.
Contact information for voters: 812-366-3724; www://sandyforcouncil.com/; follow me on Facebook Sandy for Council; [email protected]
Name and age: Houston Lee Mathes, 31
Residency: New Salisbury
Family: Parents: Carl (Buck) and Flossie Mathes; siblings: Matthew and Denise Mathes
Education/Occupation/Political experience: B.S. in microbiology, Indiana University — Bloomington. Currently a laboratory technician/microbiologist at Louisville MSD. Previously I have done septic/sewer/concrete work and was also a Union steelworker at one time.
Why are you seeking the office (in 100 words or less)? To be honest and concise, I would say that I don’t believe the people’s interests in Harrison County have been looked after well in a number of years. Rather than complain, I decided the best way for me to ensure proper stewardship of the public’s assets and trust is to personally get involved.
What qualifies you for the office (in 150 words or less)? Short answer: I am a pragmatic, populist, everyman. Long answer: My work and education in the sciences has given me an objective, fact-based approach to problem solving that I think government at all levels sorely needs. I am ethical, hard working and practical enough to support good ideas without regard to politics or partisan nonsense. In addition, I represent a demographic that has largely been voiceless in Harrison County: the young professional. Consider how many thousands of people in the county are younger than 40 and are not self-employed. Historically, there has been a dearth of council members from that group. These people need an advocate in county government. I can speak for the needs of all those thousands, people who have always been paid by the hour and/or those that drive 20+ miles to and from work every day because that’s exactly how I earn my living.
With the new county highway garage completed, what one or two projects do you think the county should address next that you would support funding and why (in 150 words or less)? A community with a skilled, educated workforce is attractive for any industry considering investment in Harrison County. Because of this, I think educational support is the one place the county can make a substantial gain off of its investments. If we provide for the needs of the educators in our schools, they can better the outcomes for our next generation of citizens. In addition, I believe the county should expand its abilities to help its adult population seeking job training or college coursework. This could take the form of traditional scholarships/grants or perhaps even assistance with child care, which is a major hurdle for parents trying to make ends meet as well as increase their quality of life. In this way, I think we can help a broad spectrum of our citizens make their lives a little better.
Contact information for voters: Email: [email protected] or check out my Houston Mathes for County Council Facebook page.
Name and age: James F. Yeager, 30
Family: Parents Kent and Joy Yeager; siblings Sarah Yeager Browning and Ann Yeager Briggs
Education/Occupation/Political experience: 2004 Corydon Central High School Academic Honors graduate, class president and Male Athlete of the Year. 2009 Indiana University — Kelley School of Business graduate with triple major in accounting, finance and operations management. Interned at Clifton Gunderson LLP, U.S. Senate and Monroe Shine. Two years full time at Monroe Shine working in public accounting. Last five years spent as controller at Fred Smith Store Fixtures Inc. First time running for office.
Why are you seeking the office (in 100 words or less)? My accounting background makes me very concerned about the lack of checks and balances in place in our local government. These deficiencies leave the door open to misappropriations and corruption, and our county cannot afford for these weaknesses to continue. I am also the youngest candidate on the ballot and feel as though my leadership can help attract younger residents. This is a major concern I have heard that greatly impacts Harrison County’s ability to be prosperous into the future. It is very important we remember spending money and making an investment are not the same thing.
What qualifies you for the office (in 150 words or less)? I am well educated in accounting and finance with experience in budgets and fiscal responsibility in the private business sector. More importantly, I am a listen first, speak last type of person that always looks to collect as much information as possible before making a decision. I was raised on a farm and am well aware of how important those roots are here in Harrison County, but I have also helped grow a family business and know the struggles that come with it as well. I grew up in Mauckport, live in Corydon and work in Depauw which has given me the chance to see the needs of most of the county firsthand. I feel as though all of these factors have helped to better prepare me to represent the entire county.
With the new county highway garage completed, what one or two projects do you think the county should address next that you would support funding and why (in 150 words or less)? I have heard many issues from concerned residents over the last year and believe the projects the county pursues should be targeted at fixing these issues. This mindset is why I believe the most important project for Harrison County at this time is pursuing countywide high-speed Internet. I believe achieving this goal is a must to attract young people back to the area, ease the economic burden put on our businesses and help facilitate learning for students by making reliable Internet more readily available. Countywide high-speed Internet will not fix every issue we have, but it is long overdue and it will help Harrison County prosper.
Contact information for voters: Phone 812-267-0685, email [email protected]
Name and age: Gary Byrne, 55
Family: Married to Angie for 34 years. We have three sons: Ryan, age 30; Jordan, age 27; Tyler, age 24; and are currently raising Ricky and Nicholas Cashman, ages 14 and 9, whose parents passed away. We have two grandchildren, Rick and Avery.
Education/Occupation/Political experience: I graduated from North Harrison in 1979. Business owner of Byrne Satellite Systems since 1983. We handle residential and commercial sales and installation of satellite, surveillance, security, phone and networking systems. I also farm, raising cattle and hay. I was elected to the North Harrison Community School Corp. Board of Education in 2006 and 2012. I am currently on the Harrison County Lifelong Learning board and Byrneville Cemetery board as treasurer. I have been elected three terms to the North Harrison Cal Ripken Baseball and was board president for eight years. I coached boys’ basketball and baseball at North Harrison for 10 years. I am a member of Farm Bureau and the National Rifle Association.
Why are you seeking the office (in 100 words or less)? I am running for office to serve the community. My goal is to bring a common sense, limited government and conservative approach to county government. People running for office often say they are conservative but once elected spend in ways that do not follow conservative beliefs. I will oppose crony capitalism and let free market principles work. I believe the best economic development is through low property taxes and view funding for existing road improvements and law enforcement services as top priorities. I will oppose the paying of health insurance for county commissioners and council as they are part-time positions.
What qualifies you for the office (in 150 words or less)? As a successful business owner for 33 years, I know and understand the importance of hard work and spending money wisely. I have been elected to the North Harrison school board twice. The first was while the school was in a self-inflicted spending crisis in the General Fund and, as a board member, I helped guide the school to solvency without using property taxes to bail out the fund. I have a history of being conservative when spending taxpayer dollars while on the school board and promise to do the same in county government. I will use my years of experience and knowledge from serving on the various boards in the community in making decisions that I believe are best and fair for all taxpayers in the county.
With the new county highway garage completed, what one or two projects do you think the county should address next that you would support funding and why (in 150 words or less)? It may be time to take a pause in new project spending. I want to see the riverboat rainy day fund increased, and this can be accomplished by stopping the spending of the interest from the fund. Instead of any new projects that may increase the size of county government or increase the reoccurring expenses out of the taxpayers’ pockets, I believe we should take care of the programs and buildings we currently have in place that are necessary. If a need arises in the future that is the county government’s responsibility, I would not be opposed to finding a good solution. Any county government spending of the taxpayers’ money should not compromise free market, limited government and conservative values.
Contact information for voters: Phone 812-951-2950, cell 812-267-3808, Facebook Gary Byrne for County Council and email [email protected]
Name and age: Jennie Capelle, 42
Residency: Corydon, Harrison Township
Family: Husband Dan Capelle, married 21 years. Two teenage daughters, Sidney and Macey. Daughter of Dick and Vicki Engleman.
Education/Occupation/Political experience: Bachelor of Science in elementary education, Master of Education, Building Level Administration Licensure. Current director of College & Career Readiness for South Harrison schools, past eight years high school administrator, four years elementary teacher. Prior to career in education, worked at Ford Motor Co. while attending college. Member of Corydon United Methodist Church past 21 years. Corydon Rotary Club treasurer. I have never sought or held elected office before.
Why are you seeking the office (in 100 words or less)? I want to make Harrison County a place where families want to grow their family trees. I have a passion for the youth in our county. I have been a school teacher and administrator in Harrison County for the past 13 years. I want to be on the county council to make Harrison County a place where our children will someday choose to live and have successful careers. I am seeking to be on the county council to serve our community. I will not accept taxpayer-funded insurance or pensions. I am running for public service, not for perks!
What qualifies you for the office (in 150 words or less)? I believe I am qualified for the office for many reasons. I am a conservative and want to work with others for the good of our community. I believe it is important that our elected officials are smart with our tax dollars. I have held many leadership positions, including being principal at Corydon Central High and a manufacturing planning specialist with Ford Motor Co. In my personal life, I am actively involved in my church, Rotary Club, as well as volunteering for many community events. More importantly, I was born and raised in Harrison County. I love this community, and I’m passionate about our future. I will work hard to help Harrison County continue to be the great community it is today.
With the new county highway garage completed, what one or two projects do you think the county should address next that you would support funding and why (in 150 words or less)? I believe one of the most important tasks at hand right now for the county council is high-speed Internet. There are many areas of our county where this service is not available. High-speed Internet is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity to keep our community moving forward into the 21st century. Our schoolchildren use high-speed Internet in the classroom, and it’s important they have access to it at home. The future of our youth will look considerably different than what we know today. They need all the resources possible to best prepare them. High-speed Internet is also vital for the workforce. It’s necessary for some people to be connected to work while at home. There are companies that have work-at-home positions but, due to the lack of Internet service, these positions may not be an option for Harrison County residents.
Contact information for voters: Email: [email protected]; phone: 812-738-7797; Facebook: Jennie Capelle for County Council
Name and age: Donald J. (Donnie) Hussung, 60
Residency: Lifetime at Lanesville
Family: Widower; two sons, Corey Hussung, Cody Hussung (married to Kacee Lett); one daughter, Erica Hussung; two grandchildren; one great-grandchild
Education/Occupation/Political experience: Graduate of Lanesville High School, business course studies at IUS and various banking-related certifications through the American Institute of Banking. VP, area lending officer, First Harrison Bank. I am a former member of the Lanesville Community School Corp. Board of Trustees (23 years, 16 years as chairman) and a former member and chairman of the Lanesville Town Board.
Why are you seeking the office (in 100 words or less)? I have been involved in my community on a volunteer or elected capacity over 30 years. This community has been good to me, and public service is one small way of giving back. I have no right to complain about issues if I choose not to be involved. I hope to have a positive impact and work to make Harrison County the best place to live, work and play. At the end of the day, what we leave behind by our words and actions is far more important that what we take away.
What qualifies you for the office (in 150 words or less)? As overseer of the county’s purse strings, a councilperson has to be able to distinguish needs from wants and make tough decisions to ensure proper use of riverboat and taxpayer funds. I’ve had to eliminate jobs held by family and friends, negotiate contracts with staff using common sense and factual information resulting in 0% salary increases from very dedicated and committed individuals and work with fellow board members to find ways to continue to fund programs cut by other schools but considered too important for our kids to do without in order to stay within the constraints of a limited budget. With 39 years in banking, 23 years as a Lanesville school board member, 29 years as a Lanesville Volunteer Fire Dept. member and a term on the Lanesville Town Board, I feel I have the experience and qualities needed to be a good steward of the people’s money.
With the new county highway garage completed, what one or two projects do you think the county should address next that you would support funding and why (in 150 words or less)? With our increasing reliance on technology, reliable access to the Internet is vital. Many companies require access to high-speed Internet service for their daily operations. More people have the capability to work from home but require this access. It is imperative we continue to address this issue and work to provide access to high-speed Internet to the entire county. What was once considered a luxury is now a necessity and will only enhance our ability to attract new businesses and job opportunities. Also, continued support for economic development in areas of the county designated for such activity — like the Corydon Industrial Park, Pacer Court near the hospital, New Salisbury business corridor and Lanesville interchange — is crucial. Drawing good quality employers to these areas should provide quality jobs, will lessen our reliance on riverboat funding, which is constantly eyed by others, and, in turn, will lighten future burdens on our taxpayers.
Contact information for voters: [email protected]