October 30, 2012

Budget is concern to some candidates

Five candidates are running for county council at large.

by Amie Sites

— Five Cass County residents – three Republicans and two Democrats – are vying for three vacant Cass County Council seats in next week's election.

The seats are currently being served by incumbents George Stebbins and Jeff LeDonne, who are Republicans both seeking re-election, and Ralph Anderson, who is running unopposed as a Republican for a county commissioner’s seat.
Stebbins, LeDonne and newcomer Stacey Donato, also a Republican, will be battling for the three seats with Democrats Scott Peattie and Terry Homburg.
Peattie said he decided to seek a Cass County Council at-large seat because he felt decisions made by the council had not been in the best interest of the citizens. He said that the budget is one of the top issues that needs to be addressed.
Peattie said he wouldn’t have given the Cass County Fire District No. 1 a 10-year, interest-free loan of $200,000, which council members, including Stebbins and LeDonne, approved this spring. Peattie said they should have to pay some interest.
LeDonne agreed that the budget is an issue. 
“The budget is a major concern right now,” he said. “We are hoping we don’t have to cut any more.” 
LeDonne, a farmer who grew up in Cass County, said he is the right candidate because he is easy going, conservative and enjoys working with others. 
Stebbins talked about the county’s financial difficulty. He said substantial cuts were made last year and 18 positions were eliminated.
Stebbins, the current president of the council, said he has experience and knowledge of issues from going to meetings and seeing what is going on. He also said his small business experience, through part ownership of Stebbins Enterprises, Inc., and East Main Mini Storage, is helpful. He said the council needs to work to bring in more businesses to help strengthen the county’s tax base.
Peattie, who has lived in the area since 1998, said that he is the right candidate because he is a common sense type of guy and is both business- and industry-minded. Peattie, who is currently president of the Logansport Board of Zoning Appeals, was the lone “yes” vote for a proposed senior housing center to be placed downtown. The plan was denied for various reasons, including inadequate parking and the special exception the board had to give in order for the project to move forward. Peattie said he is open to decisions to get more industry in the county. 
Donato agreed that fiscal assets are a major issue. 
“Funds have to be controlled and expended wisely,” Donato said. “I cannot speak on individual line items yet, but my plan is to look into them when they are approved.” 
Donato’s other concern is for future generations.
“A lot of people don’t have kids who return to the area because they aren’t able to find jobs here,” Donato said. “My goal is to keep retention of future generations right here, but they have to have the availability to come here.”
Homburg agreed with Donato that another issue is keeping businesses and having the ability to build a foundation from there. Homburg said he wants to help provide that opportunity. 
Peattie and Homburg believe they have experience to help them as council candidates.
Peattie operated Peattie’s Bait and Tackle for 16 years and Homburg was on the city council for 12 years and has been maintenance manager for Logansport Municipal Utilities for 25 years. 
“I’ve had to balance multi-million dollar budgets,” Homburg said. “I still have a passion to be involved.” 
Homburg said that he believes he would be able to get the board and commission to work together, including all towns in the county. 
“There is already a joint dispatch,” Homburg said of the combined E-911 dispatch center for the city and county. “I would work to create a bond and combine some workloads.” 
Amie Sites is a reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5150 or