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Four Knightstown Candidates Share Views with Readers
October 2007 - Last month The Banner sent questionnaires to the candidates running for the three Knightstown Town Council seats up for election November 6.
Four of the seven candidates completed and returned their questionnaires, and their responses to some of the questions were published in The Banner on October 17. General information on the candidates who responded is included below as well as their responses to all of the questions posed on the Banner questionnaire.
Candidates who did not respond to the questionnaire were current Council President David Glenn (R), current Council Vice President Nate Hamilton and candidate Bryan J. Miller (L).
The Candidates Who Responded:
TERRY L. GUERIN
16 W. Main St. (Independent challenger for Ward 4 seat)
President of Guerin & Guerin, Inc.; serves on Michigan’s Dept. of Environ. Quality’s Solid Waste Advisory Comm.; represents Michigan Waste Industries Assn. before Michigan legislature; and performs governmental affairs representation in Indiana.
Education: Hanover College, BA; Drake Univ., MA; postgraduate work at Iowa State Univ. and Northern Michigan Univ.
237 N. Adams St. (Independent challenger for Ward 1 seat)
Retired; serves on Knightstown Plan Commission and Knightstown Board of Zoning Appeals; served on IN Labor Management Council’s Board of Directors (1985-2000).
Education: Knightstown High School (1965); U.S. Army NCO Academy (1967); union representative training(1972-2002); and seminars on management techniques.
CORT E. SWINCHER
104 S. Washington St. (Republican incumbent for Ward 3 seat)
Quality Coordinator for T.S. Tech, New Castle; formerly employed as a quality engineer for INTAT Precision, Rushville; incumbent Ward 3 town council member; member of Knightstown Plan Commission.
Education: Knightstown High School (1982); associate’s degree for Industrial Technology.
ROBERT E. WEBER
25 E. Main St. (Independent challenger for Ward 3 seat)
Department Head, Home Depot, Greenfield; operated family grain and livestock farm near Knightstown for 30 years; served 3 years as Wayne Twp. trustee (1976-1979).
Education: Knightstown High School (1967); degree in Ag. Econ. from Purdue Univ. (1972); U.S. Air Force ROTC.
Candidate Responses to Banner Questionnaire:
► What do you believe to be the five most important issues facing Knightstown and its citizens?
1. Need for open government;
2. Insuring the stability of the police department;
3. Being fiscally responsible;
4. Being vocal to reduce property taxes; and
5. Working with community groups to make Knightstown a better place to live.
1. Population decline;
2. Commerce decline;
3. Lack of cooperation among government and non-government organizations;
4. Property tax increases; and
5. Lack of recreational facilities and "things to do" for young people.
1. Future growth;
2. Trust of government. We need to earn this back.
3. Honesty. We need to be up front on specific issues that the public should be aware of.
(Swincher only listed three issues - ed.)
1. Local government should have an open door policy;
2. Police department should be managed and staffing issues addressed;
3. Make Knightstown a community people would want to bring their businesses to, therefore helping some homeowners with property tax;
4. Work with existing local organizations to bring jobs to Knightstown; and
5. Fiscal responsibilities to local government.
► If (re)elected, what would you do to address these issues?
1. Information should be made accessible to the public unless there are legal grounds to withhold it.
2. Monitor expenditures to remain within a shrinking budget.
3. Contact state officials to hold property taxes in check and work progressively to exempt one's primary residence from personal property from taxes. Hold local taxes in check by limiting expenses.
4. As above.
5. Strive to have community groups work together to promote Knightstown and be progressive in promoting growth in Knightstown.
“Work with other council members and county and state and federal governments to identify the causes of the problems, find solutions, then take action.”
- Continue to work with the planning commission towards the growth of Knightstown;
- Strive to be trustworthy and honest. I feel like I could have done more but I let some people sway my better judgement. That won't happen again.
"I would firstly have town meetings open to the public and be open to their opinions in making decisions that affect the town. Also, I would help to manage, but not micro-manage the police department. Lastly, I would work with local organizations to help bring businesses and jobs to town. If we could do these three things, our town would benefit greatly."
► Are you satisfied with the degree of openness in local government? If you are not ... and believe there should be more openness, how would you, if (re)elected, work toward accomplishing that task?
"No. I do not believe government has been open enough. This is the main reason that prompted me to run for office. Information should be available to constituents unless there is some legal reason to withhold the information."
"I believe the question and answers are relevant. Some people expect and need more detailed information. I have experienced no difficulty receiving information that I have requested."
"If you don't do anything wrong, there is no need to hide anything. We should always be open and honest."
"I feel the town meetings should be open to the public. We need to get the town's people involved in the issues that ultimately will affect them. In doing so, we will listen to the public which will ultimately show us different viewpoints and we can effectively make decisions on all heard opinions."
► Are you satisfied with current local officials' efforts to invigorate the local economy, plan for the future, and promote the area as a desirable place to live and work? If not, what would you do differently?
"No I am not. Opportunities in the past have been missed leading to lost opportunities to increase our tax base, therefore reducing an individual's tax burden."
"Not knowing how much effort has been exerted, it would be unfair to say that I am not satisfied with the effort. However, I am not satisfied with the results for the past 40 years. This is not a new issue."
"So-so. I feel we can do better. We have made some strides in the four years I have been in office."
"I would bring all local organizations together to ultimately bring in improvement in the local economy. By working together, we can accomplish much."
► What relationship do you believe persons holding the office you're seeking should have with local law enforcement, and if (re)elected, how, if at all, would you work with local law enforcement to make this town, its constituents, schools and businesses safe?
"We have had several police chiefs over the last seven years. The town council has the responsibility to secure a competent chief who, along with his fellow officers, enforces the law … within the law. The town council should stop meddling in police department operational affairs and let the chief do his job. If he doesn't, then rectify it."
"It should be as any other employer-employee relationship. The employer must set the requirements, boundaries, responsibilities and authority levels. If the employee is competent and motivated, allow them to do their jobs."
"The relationship needs to be good. Many changes have taken place within the KPD. Now I feel we are moving in the right direction."
"I believe the police department should be managed closely, but not micro-managed. I feel the chief should be in charge of his department, and as long as he is performing his duties correctly, the board should not interfere."
► Looking back over the past 4 years, do you believe attorneys representing the town have, more often than not, provided good legal advice and services? If not, please explain in what ways you have been displeased ... and tell us whether you believe consideration should be given to retaining new legal counsel.
"No I do not. The whole air of secrecy has transpired on the town's attorneys' watch, which in turn has led to unnecessary law suits and expenditures. Note especially the dispatcher lawsuit and continued secrecy even after the town lost the case on appeal. At the very least, Mr. Copenhaver's continued tenure should be re-evaluated."
"In my opinion, current counsel has at times been slow at getting things done. I certainly support the idea of 'shopping around' for potential improvement in this service, as well as other services purchased with taxpayer dollars."
"People make mistakes. I feel getting quotes for new representation should always be a good idea. Contracts expire every year."
"I believe the town attorney's job is to uphold the board's decisions and actions within the laws of the state. His job is not to direct the board to make decisions which would not be beneficial to the town."
► Please state your party affiliation (if applicable) and briefly explain how that party’s views (or your decision to seek office as an independent candidate) have influenced your own thoughts and ideas about local government.
“I have evolved over my lifetime from a family-oriented Democrat to Republican to Independent. The two major parties are both failing to govern responsibly.”
“I really don’t think that partisan politics should have much to do with town government. Adhering to ‘party lines’ for the sake of consistency versus doing the right thing borders on pig-headedness.”
“I am a Republican. But (that) really has nothing to do with running a town. We all must work together.”
“I will be an independent. I believe it is time to make changes in the way the current board operates. The lack of openness is probably the most difficult problem the current board has.”
► What do you think are the most important duties/responsibilities of the office you’re seeking?
“Honest, integrity, fiscal responsibility, and an ear to constituents.”
“The bottom line is to acquire the highest quality services (for the town) at the best possible price.”
“To always remember you represent the town and its people.”
“I feel the responsibilities of my position will be to help manage the town’s business. The fiscal business of the town is the most important aspect in keeping property taxes as low as possible.”
► Do you believe persons elected to the local government office you’re seeking have any responsibility for addressing concerns over rising property taxes? If you do, what specific steps do you think can be taken at this level of local government to address this issue?
“Elected officials have an absolute responsibility to do what is possible to hold or where possible reduce or eliminate property taxes. I have already contacted state legislators and tax reformers to voice concern about this issue. While the elimination of property taxes may be impractical without getting into our pocket elsewhere, I do believe one’s primary residence should be tax exempt. Why should we work all our lives to pay off a mortgage only to rent from the government for the rest of our lives?”
“No direct responsibility. I do believe it is the responsibility of all citizens to pressure those who can levy taxes to reduce those taxes and find alternate revenue sources.”
“Yes. But I’m not sure how we can do that. Maybe all we can do is push other members of government.”
“Yes. First we need to get the most out of the dollars you have to spend. Secondly, we need to try to bring more businesses to town to help keep property taxes as low as possible.”
► What, if anything, do you think should be done to attract visitors and promote tourism in this community? What would you identify as this town’s best qualities and attractions?
“First, the character of the downtown should be maintained. Efforts should be made to unify splintered groups to promote Knightstown. We need to work together.”
“Of course the Hoosier Gym and our unique town square are probably the most popular attractions. However, I believe more could be done to develop the downtown, develop the ‘Historic Knightstown’ corridor featuring historic buildings/expand auto show/have historic farm tractor show/expand farmers market/in future have a community college/enterprise zone for professional services (attorneys, doctors, dentists).”
“’A good place to visit, a better place to live’ is good, but nobody has ever really advertised Knightstown. The Hoosier Gym is a good focal point. We need business. We need people; We just need to grow.”
“I feel we are on the right track by hosting important events like the car show, the Blue Grass festival, Jubilee Days, fall festival and the Hoosier Gym. If we could promote these events more and maybe add more, we could help bring greater awareness to our community.”
► Please list three positive qualities about yourself and explain how they would help you govern if (re)elected.
“I have extensive experience governing organizations and/or departments in the public, nonprofit and private sectors. Past experience required skills in mediating, communicating and working with many individuals from various walks of life. For the last 20 years I have worked extensively with governmental officials at the local, state, and periodically the national level.”
“I believe I have good analytical skills. I believe I have good problem solving skills. I believe I am easy to talk to.”
“I’m an engineer. I try to see all possibilities. I’m honest and trustworthy; that’s very important. I have experience in town government. I will look out for the citizens’ best interest.”
“First, I am a family oriented Christian. These qualities will help ensure me with a positive attitude and fairness to all people. Secondly, I have been self-employed for 30 years. With this experience, I am confident in my abilities to help manage the town’s business.”
► To the extent you are comfortable sharing this information with voters, please identify members of your immediate family.
“My wife Sandy is the Assistant Director of Risk Management for Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. She will be retiring in two years and will move here. We have three children: Andrea Stinson in Houston, Texas; Lee Ann Coiner in Wadsworth, Ohio; and Joshua in East Lansing, Michigan. We have eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.”
“My wife Pam and I have three children and six grandchildren.”
“Angie – wife; and Ashley, Cortney and BreAnna Hope – all daughters. Mother, Betty Swincher, has lived in Knightstown 39 years, just as I have been in the Knightstown area for 39 years.”
“I am married to Janet Weber and we have six grown children and several grandchildren.”
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