by Amie Sites
Newcomer Stacey Donato, recently elected county councilwoman, is attending meetings and talking with council members to prepare herself for her new role.
The Republican Donato was elected along with incumbent Republican council members George Stebbins and Jeffrey LeDonne.
Donato, who attended this month’s county council meeting, said she had spoken with the auditor, Vaneen Ide, about budget specifics, as well as other council members about what to expect. Donato said she has attended six council meetings.
“I’ve also been talking to taxpayers so I can do the best I can to serve the county,” Donato said. “Anytime I’m out and about, I talk to people.”
George Stebbins, president of the county council, said he had spoken with Donato about upcoming issues and had offered his help on anything she needs.
Donato said council members had been more than willing to answer her questions.
Stebbins said the learning curve for the council, realistically, takes anywhere from six months to a year.
“The budget is hard to learn,” Stebbins said. “I had an advantage because I had attended meetings and knew what was going on, and Donato is now doing that too.”
Donato said she has had more than one council member tell her it takes about a year to understand everything. Donato, who said she was overwhelmed and surprised when she won, said she was hoping to shorten that time.
Tom Weatherwax, vice chairman of the Cass County Republican Party, said he was proud of Donato, the No. 1 vote-getter in the county.
“Donato is a breath of fresh air and has an excellent family and a good business background,” Weatherwax said. “She is in the financial business, which is very important for understanding budget.”
Weatherwax said he believed Donato would take a good, sensible approach to the budget.
Donato, whose family formerly owned Donato and Son Jeep, worked the last 26 years in automotive accounting and recently joined the Mike Anderson Auto Group as office manager of the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC Truck store in Logansport.
Donato said she had noticed most meeting topics seem to be a continuation process and it’s important to attend as much as she can so she can keep track of what’s going on and learn the background.
“When each one of the representatives comes forward I look into what they are talking about,” Donato said. “I go check it out so I know what they’re talking about. I like to see what my opinion would have been.”
She said she visited Onward when the council talked about the Onward school being torn down.
“I love a challenge,” Donato said. “I’m welcoming aspects of being inside county government.”
Amie Sites is a reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.