October 18, 2012

Commissioner candidates respond to questions

— Republican Jim Sailors faces a challenge from Democrat Timothy Banter Sr. in a race for District 2 county commissioner.

The Pharos-Tribune posed two questions to the candidates. Those questions and the candidates’ responses follow:

What do you see as the issues in this campaign?

Banter: There are numerous issues but these are ones most disturbing:

A. The present ambulance service is substandard without proper radio communication between ambulances, Hospital, Fire department, and Police. The E.M.T.s are using cell phones, and the ambulances are not equipped with GPS. This leaves the citizens of Cass County in the hands of an emergency service dependent upon cell coverage, which is poor to nonexistent in some parts of the county, and is many times unable to find locations in sufficient time. Most of the E.M.T.s are not locals and many residents have witnessed them pulled to the side of the road with their lights on looking at maps while on a call.

B. France Park has been neglected for years, resulting in an exodus of patrons. This park could be an asset and bring in sorely needed revenue into Cass County.

My opponent has approved a work for rent policy for those renters staying during the winter. Who determines what the value of each job will be, and how does this bring in the needed revenue this park desperately needs?

Sailors: Economic development is a large issue in Cass County along with all the counties along the new Heartland Corridor, and we are in competition with all those other counties. The county can only grow with more development from industry and agri-business since we are in an agricultural county. We used to have several factories in our county, and we are down to a handful, which lessens our tax base, putting more of a burden on the individual residents of the county. A new economic development person has been hired who will help with that development.

All of the small towns in Cass County are facing issues with septic systems and in some, water issues. We are in the process of working with the utilities to come up with funding to provide those services to those small towns. We have at least 15 little towns in our county and in most cases, if their septic systems go bad; they have no place to install another system.

We need to be selective in the use of TIF districts, which could be a large issue for schools and other entities that receive tax dollars. Growth is important, but so is maintaining our services for the community.

Why should voters choose you?

Banter: As a retired veteran of the Navy, I’ve handled big budgets, supervised between 50 to 100 sailors, complied with EPA and OSHA regulations and operated under restrained funding. I’ll bring a new perspective to the challenges of the office. I will alert citizens of issues that are not in the public’s best interest. Finally, I will try to put an end to the practice of conducting business behind closed doors. I want residents to know that my door will always be open to their concerns, and I will be their voice in county government!

Sailors: I am not a politician. I was chosen by the Republican caucus 5 years ago when Steve Cain resigned to take another job. I ran for election 4 years ago unopposed, so I have served for just about 5 years. I believe in making decisions based on facts after researching as many avenues as are available. I do not believe that decisions should be based on emotion or personal interest. Decisions should be based on the majority rather than one person or group’s special interest. Our politicians are wheeling and dealing at the taxpayer’s expense. We at the local level cannot tolerate that nor should we tolerate it at any other level.

We have had tough decisions to make due to loss of revenue distributed by the state. We’ve made those decisions and operating within the budget while maintaining services to our county.

I am trying to make the best decisions I can to make our county grow and be a good place to live, not just for now, but for years to come.