days before the election on November 2 candidates gathered to
give the voters the opportunity to hear the issues at a town
hall type meeting at the South Ripley Elementary School on Monday,
October 25. The event was sponsored by the Ripley County Chamber
Candidates for both the local and state offices were in attendance
to answer questions presented randomly posed by moderator Cathy
May and from those in the audience.
First up was Trent Decker representing District 9 US Representative
Baron Hill who was unable to attend. Decker presented some issues
important to Congressman Hill such as creating jobs for Indiana,
ensuring the success of small businesses and fiscal discipline
such as a balanced budget.
When asked to consider what would be the issues for the next
Congress, Decker explained that the creation of jobs and ensuring
that Hoosier veterans receive both the financial and medical
assistance needed are most important for the State.
Running for the first time was Jerry Lucas, a write in candidate
for District 9 US Representative. Lucas is a nurse who also
served as a combat medic and provided his services at Ground
Zero after 9-11 and at Biloxi, MS, after Hurricane Katrina.
I am here to prove that you dont need to spend a
million dollars just to run for Congress, he said. He
questioned if there are jobs available then why are there so
many Hoosiers out of jobs. If you are going to spend a
million dollars then spend it on something thats going
to benefit us, said Lucas.
He said that the common person does not have the voice of Congress
anymore. It is time for someone to say that it is about
you, he continued.
Lucas question was provided by Family Connections in Versailles
regarding funding for programs that benefit needy families that
has sustained large cuts by the State. Lucas was asked how he
proposes to fund these programs.
According to Lucas, he will propose to reduce spending for support
in other countries without taking funds away from the troops
serving our country and taking care of our countrys needs
Running unopposed for the Indiana House of Representatives District
67 and also a first time candidate is Randy Frye. As a
man with a diverse background I believe that I have a unique
opportunity to serve you, said Frye.
Local candidates also had the opportunity to introduce themselves
and speak on issues important to them. Juanita Dee Dee
Kaiser explained that her goal as a member of the county council
is to continue to maintain a balanced budget for the county.
County Council District 3 candidate Bill McDonald, who is a
current employee of the Ripley County Sheriffs Department,
explained that if elected he would abstain from any vote regarding
pay, but feels there would be no conflict of interest voting
on policy matters.
Ed Armbrecht, candidate for County Council District 4, explained
that there are funds available to build the proposed courthouse
annex in cash. He noted that several years ago the county government
took steps to keep the county in the black by cutting spending.
The county is well off financially, said Armbrecht,
but it is due to those who worked to reduce spending five
Sheriff Tom Grills, seeking re-election in November, was posed
a question regarding the utility vehicle purchased for the sheriffs
department such as what funds were used to purchase the vehicle
and was it used for more than just parades.
Grills explained that the funds to purchase the vehicle came
from the commissary fund. The fund is generated by prisoners
being allowed to purchase non-essential items not provided by
the department. According to the sheriff, the vehicle is used
for security at events such as the fair, the F.A.R.M. Club show
and the Friendship shoots.
Ripley County Prosecutor Ric Hertel, running for re-election,
was asked to explain his greatest accomplishment while in office.
Although he has worked with CASA and other child advocacy programs
as well as serving on the Safe Passages board, he would rather
look to the future.
According to Hertel, Indiana ranks number two in meth production,
a problem that needs to be addressed immediately. I want
to look to the future and make a positive effect, said
Tim Taylor and Denise Fields are running for South Ripley School
Board. Taylor, currently serving on the board, said his vision
for South Ripley was to continue to provide a quality education
for its students.
Fields said she would use her education to improve education
to bring students to the next level to better prepare
them for higher education that will be needed for the current
Questions from the audience were varied from concerns for property
tax relief, loss of funding from land line phone fees for the
9-1-1 call centers, and adequate police protection for Ripley
Jud McMillan, running for State Representative District 68,
proposed to provide property tax relief by cutting programs
to reduce spending. According to McMillan, he has a plan that
outlines his proposal that addresses these concerns.
Bob Bischoff, who is seeking re-election to the State Representative
District 68 seat, challenged by McMillan, explained that the
proposed tax cap for properties was misleading. He said although
homes, real estate, and businesses are capped at a certain percentage,
the cost would continue to increase if assessment value increased.
He noted that in order for the tax cap to become a part of the
constitution, it would need to be passed in two consecutive
Sheriff Grills was asked how he would improve the office of
sheriff if elected. He explained that one of his goals is to
institute a database that would coordinate the jail, dispatch
system and the case management system. He said another goal
is to lobby the county council to increase deputies.
After all the audiences questions were answered, the event
was adjourned in order for the candidates to speak one on one
to the voters and further address issues important to them.
(Editors note) Not all of the candidates were able to
participate in the event held Monday evening. Those not in attendance
have been listed in the newspaper to inform voters of their