October 18, 2012

Cass County Council candidates respond to questions

— Five candidates are competing for three at-large seats on the Cass County Council.

Republicans Stacey Donato, Jeffrey LeDonne and George Stebbins will face Democrats Terry Homburg and Scott Peattie.

The Pharos-Tribune posed two questions to all five candidates. The questions and their responses follow:

Q: What do you see as the issues in this campaign?

Donato: The issue in the campaign is fiscal assets. The tax revenue generated by Cass County must be closely monitored, and constantly managed to ensure the improvement of our future, and future generations. There are some very positive attributes that we have to offer potential businesses and residence that would possibly be relocating to this area. Also, there are some desperate areas of concern that need our immediate attention. It is the job of the council to ensure that funds are available as needed for those immediate appropriations. It is a delicate balance, and at times, a difficult decision as to the long term effects that each decision made will be a positive one.

Also, I ask that you as residents make it your duty to stay informed on the goods and services that are being provided to you in Cass County. Be aware of how the funds are being appropriated to each division, and what entities are privately owned. Having a quality economy enables a quality community, but it takes everyone doing their part to establish that quality.

Homburg: These are some of the main issues that I feel will be top priority in the next four years.  We need to be proactive in finding ways to help keep the jobs here that we have in the county now, and at a minimum, sustain the tax base that we have. Finding more funding to increase the amount of road resurfacing that is done each year. Coming up with the funding to match the endless workload of ditch and tile repairs that are necessary. Being on top of receiving some of the multitude of grants that are out there. Providing the safest police and fire protection. Being ready to act on projects that will be associated with the  Heartland Highway. Providing county employees with fair wages and compensation. Actually listening to what constituents are saying and acting on it. Probably, the most important, working together with all the boards, councils, commissioners, mayor, plan commissions and townships throughout the county to provide these services and others at the lowest costs to all of us.

LeDonne: The main issues are:

1. Work harder with the existing businesses to help widen our business base to new business.

2. Our budget is a major concern, not knowing what the state is going to do.

3. It is a battle to keep providing the level of services that we provide.

4. Serving our taxpayers better.

5. We need to take more advantage of our local agricultural community.

Peattie: I see the issues as 1. Balancing the budget, 2. drainage problems with the roads in the northern part of the county, 3. bringing jobs and/or business to Logansport and Cass County, 4. building and investing in France Park to get it up and running to attract more people to this area.

Stebbins: The Cass County Council is the financial arm of the county government. The big issue is the county budget and operating under the budget that the state sets on us. Due to property tax caps Cass County has had to make cuts in positions, insurance and services. With these cuts it will position us better for the future and may prevent any future cuts. The cuts we made were true cuts and not just a shell game. We must promote growth such as wind energy to boost our property tax base. Any large growth of income should not come with a large, quick growth of county government of spending. Regionalizing on a financial aspect, not on county lines. We should be driven to create a way to bring business into Cass County, while also implementing the businesses that we now have for growth. We also need to capitalize  from our main strength; Cass County is an agricultural county, and we must utilize the products that we produce. We must keep open minds for new opportunities and not let them pass us by.

Q: Why should voters choose you?

Donato: There are two very distinct attributes that I bring to the Cass County Council, the first being an extensive background in business financial budgeting. My lifetime career has been in the automotive dealership industry.  There are major advantages in having the knowledge of regulating expenditures in a corporation that is majorly affected by the economy.  In an environment that has minimal public transportation, the automotive dealerships must be very competitive to establish and maintain positive business relations with our local customers. Couple that with a well monitored expense ratio, and that equals a successful business portfolio.  

The second reason that I chose to run is much more important to me. That reason is to serve the county that I love. To raise a family, and have those grown children return home to settle is the passion of every parent,

I’d imagine. I have been blessed to have that as a reality in my family, and I realize that is not often the case.  As a parent with a God given gift, I feel that I must do my part to better the environment that I have

chosen to live. I humbly ask for your support in this election and thank you for all of the support that you have given to my family in this campaign.

Homburg: My roots are here in Cass County and I can look at situations from several perspectives. I am from the Clymers area where I grew up on our family farm. I have fixed wrecked train cars at Transco, been a parts manager at Massey Ferguson in Clymers and poured concrete for M R Louthain for many years. I’ve worked for LMU water and sewer for nearly 25 years where I am in charge of all the water and sewer lines in Logansport. I’ve assisted Walton, Galveton, and Royal Center on many occasions with water and sewer problems they have encountered. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty, I can design ditches and I can dig them.

I served on the Logansport City Council for 12 years. I have worked within multi-million dollar budgets and know what it takes to make the tough cuts. I already have a good working relationship with many of the county officials as well as other employees at the court house and county highway garage.  

I have learned from  many great people along the way, and I still carry a passion to be involved.

I solve problems. Friends and colleagues come to me because they know I can help them figure out a solution. I like working with people, getting along and, most importantly, getting the job done.

LeDonne: I need your vote to help get these things done.

Peattie: Voters should choose me because I would be a breath of fresh air to the County Council. I am currently the president of the Logansport Board of Zoning Appeals. My past experience of owning a small business (Peattie’s Bait and Tackle, 16 years). My faith in God. I have worked for the Logansport Municipal Utilities for 28 years. I am a proud U.S. Air Force veteran (honorably discharged). I am a common sense type of guy, and I believe this experience would make Cass County a better place to live.

Stebbins: As a small business owner, I understand what challenges new and existing businesses have. A few of these items include taxes, employees and burdensome government regulations. I have currently been on the council for one and a half years. During that time, I have built a good, working relationship with the department heads and other elected officials. Also during that year, we were required to make many tough decisions. We were proactive and made the cuts before we sent in our budget. Every department took cuts, which included 18 positions. Through good communication with the commissioners, as positions became vacant, they were not filled in 2011. We gave the commissioners a number where health insurance needed to be, and they met it. These things would not happen without effective communication and a good working relationship with each other. I have also been trying to form a good, working relationship with the elected officials of our other cities/towns in the Cass County area. As an At Large Candidate, communication is a big key. In visiting with each of the small communities and finding out what they, as a community, feel their needs are, I am able to take this information back to the council members to make decisions that are best for all concerned.