Incumbents challenged for council seats
Six people are vying for the three at-large seats on the Harrison County council. They are incumbents Jennie Engleman Capelle and Donnie Hussung, both Republicans, along with Democrats Rikki Megnin, Graylin Porter and John Resner and, Richard Gerdon, who previously served on the council as a Democrat but is now running as a Republican. The top three vote-getters will serve a four-year term. Below are the candidates’ responses to a questionnaire from this newspaper.
Name: Jennie Capelle
Family: Husband Dan Capelle, married 25 years; two daughters, Sidney and Macey
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, previously served as a high school administrator and elementary teacher. Prior to career in education, worked at Ford Motor Co. while attending college, member UAW Local 862 before moving into supervision. Current county council member.
Contact information for voters: Email — [email protected]; phone — 812-989-0656
Why are you seeking the office (100 words or less)? As I said four years ago, I want to make Harrison County a place where families want to grow their family trees. I want our residents to have easy access to education and training and good paying jobs. I want to help increase affordable quality housing options in our county. I have learned a lot the past four years serving on the county council, and I want to continue working to make Harrison County even better than what it is today.
What will be your No. 1 priority in 2021 as a councilwoman (150 words or less)? There are a few priorities I see for 2021. One is developing a vision for our county. The county’s leadership, along with community representatives, must come together and develop a common vision with long-range goals. This vision will serve as a roadmap for where we want to go and how we will get there. Our county is blessed with additional revenues that most other counties don’t have. I want to be smart with county funds but that doesn’t mean putting it all away for a rainy day. I believe riverboat funds should be used strategically and wisely to support the vision and long-range goals. Another important topic is education. Being an educator for 17 years, I have a passion for learning and helping others. Self-improvement is the key to personal success. I will continue to work with others to develop programs and opportunities for residents to improve their lives.
Name: Richard Gerdon
Family: Wife, Rilla Gilham Gerdon of 43 years, and sons Brian (Erin Reed) and Kevin (Candace Saulman). Six grandchildren: Porter, Emma, Isaac, Ava, Violet and Sawyer.
Education/Occupation/Political experience: Graduate of Corydon Central High School / VP of credit administration at First Savings Bank in Corydon / 8 years (2009-2016) as county councilman-at-large. Served on the Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County Board of Directors and presently serving on the board of The House of New Beginnings.
Contact information for voters: 812-736-1139, [email protected]
Why are you seeking the office (100 words or less)? I’m running because I think we live in an awesome county that has been very good to me and my family. I want to be able to do my part to make sure Harrison County stays strong financially and grows economically. I believe I can be responsible and reasonable in making good financial decisions not only for today, but also for the future of our children.
What will be your No. 1 priority in 2021 as a councilman (150 words or less)? To work hard to prepare the county financially for loss of casino revenue or other unforeseen financial and economic down-turns, which translates into a lot less spending and a lot more saving.
Name: Donnie J. (Donnie) Hussung
Family: Widower (Jan); three children, Erica Hussung, Corey Hussung (Bekah) and Cody Hussung (Kacee); five grandchildren; 3 living great-grandchildren and one deceased great-grandchild
Education/Occupation/Political experience: Graduate of Lanesville High School (1974); attended IUS and various bank-related certification programs. Vice president, senior lending officer with First Harrison Bank 22 years with 41 total years in banking. I am currently in the final year of my first term on the county council and am serving as chairman. Former member of the Lanesville school board, 23 years with 16 years as chairman. Former member of the Lanesville Town Council, 2 years as chairman.
Contact information for voters: [email protected]; 812-972-3201
Why are you seeking the office (100 words or less)? As a former Jaycee, I believe that part of their creed that says “service to humanity is the best work of life.” Community involvement is a great way to serve humanity. I feel that unless you are part of the solution, you have no right to complain about the problem. I believe the experiences I’ve had have contributed in a positive way to the communities I have served, and I hope once again those experiences continue to allow me to make Harrison County the best community to live work and play.
What will be your No. 1 priority in 2021 as a councilman (150 words or less)? I have always advocated that our riverboat revenue is a volatile commodity, and this past year, with the pandemic, has proven that. Our riverboat revenues suffered dramatically, and property tax levies are capped plus no one wants to see a tax increase. I have said funds not budgeted for normal operations should be invested in projects that will enhance our efforts to bring in new jobs or enhance what our current employers contribute to the county. The best way to increase our revenues besides cutting programs is more jobs. That has and will continue to be my priority.
Name: Rikki Megnin
Family: My immediate family consists of my husband Jeffrey Megnin, from Bloomington, Ind., and our five children. Shelby Megnin is a senior at IU Bloomington, Jarrett Megnin is working for the Harrison County Parks Dept., Harlee Megnin is a sophomore at IUS, Darrius Megnin is a freshman at Corydon Central High School and Lila Megnin is in fifth grade at Corydon Intermediate School.
Education/Occupation/Political experience: I graduated from North Harrison High School in 1997. After attending my first year of college at IUS, I then moved to Bloomington and finished my degree in outdoor recreation and resource management in 2004. I have worked for the Harrison County Parks for almost 6 years; I have been at the Harrison County Discovery Center since we opened it in 2016.
Contact information for voters: [email protected]
Why are you seeking the office (100 words or less)? I decided to run for county council this year to help Harrison County residents become more involved in actions of the council. I believe that the current lack of transparency is an area of concern. I am not a career politician; I care about the county in which I was born and raised. Political party affiliation should not be a deciding factor in how a council member votes. I will be open and honest and listen to all ideas, talk to the people of the county and my votes will reflect the needs and desires of Harrison County residents.
What will be your No. 1 priority in 2021 as a councilwoman (150 words or less)? My No. 1 priority is to involve the community in council decisions. We simply need to be more transparent about what is happening within the council. To accomplish this, I will be accessible to the people of Harrison County because they deserve to have input into these decisions. I plan to work cooperatively and effectively to address issues we face as a county. I want to resolve conflicts and improve communication between the county and its citizens. Positive planning and responsible oversight for financial responsibility allow us to maintain our infrastructure and help us prepare for the future. I truly want what is best for our county, and I can do my part by contributing to decisions that will put Harrison County in a good position as we look forward. I am raising my family here, and I hope they will want to raise their own children here some day.
Name: Graylin Porter
Family: Husband Andrew Reich; children Simon, age 3, and Rosamond, age 2
Education/Occupation/Political experience: B.A. from the University of North Carolina, master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Before staying home with the kids, I was the librarian at Georgetown Elementary. Also work part-time as a yoga instructor.
Why are you seeking the office (100 words or less)? I am running because you, the people of Harrison County, deserve a new voice on the county council. A voice that listens to you before making decisions and let’s you know why she voted the way she did. A voice that will ensure your taxes and riverboat revenue are spent transparently and with your full knowledge, not through private contracts without public review. A voice that cares about making Harrison County the best place to grow up, raise a family, start a business or retire.
What will be your No. 1 priority in 2021 as a councilwoman (150 words or less)? Since 1998, we have invested almost half of a billion dollars of riverboat revenue, and we now have beautifully paved roads, an excellent hospital and state-of-the-art fire departments. Those were good investments, and that infrastructure should be kept up going forward. On the other hand, the $5 million that was spent to build Areva could have paid the broadband connection fee for more than 11,000 Harrison County households, all without raising taxes by a penny. It’s time to start prioritizing people and the programs that improve their daily lives.
Name: John Resner
Family: Married with 2 boys (ages 7 and 5)
Education/Occupation/Political experience: Graduated high school in Deltona, Fla.; currently a licensed fire alarm service technician for ECT Services in Louisville. Lifelong Democrat and first time running for office.
Why are you seeking the office (100 words or less)? Raising a family in this county has made me more aware of issues that aren’t getting attention due to the single party control by Republicans. Too many projects have had questionable price tags, and there are no checks on anything being done. A few select individuals have free rein to use the county budget for their own personal reasons, and it needs to stop. Not enough people know where the county gets their money from and what they are doing with it. Transparency in council activities is non-existent, and that will change.
What will be your No. 1 priority in 2021 as a councilman (150 words or less)? I am someone who likes to shake up the status quo. The good-ole boy system in our county needs to end. My priorities will be to create transparency in county spending and activities, end the private meetings the current council members have that violate the sunshine laws in our state and end pet projects that only serve the interests of people connected to the current controlling party. My goal will be to educate the public on what has happened in the past and what will be happening in the future. A well-informed electorate breeds success for everyone. Together we can grow stronger as a county, as neighbors and be proud of how we got there. It will take hard work and cooperation; however, myself and my fellow Democrats are willing and able to put forth unwavering effort for the good of our county.