Pharos-Tribune

Voters' Guide

October 15, 2011

At-large hopefuls split on 18th Street plan

Four men vying for two seats also discuss power plant during forum.

LOGANSPORT — The four candidates for at-large seats on Logansport City Council disagree on the need for the 18th Street Corridor project.

Incumbent Jeremy Ashcraft supports the plan, while fellow Republican Chris Martin opposes it. Democratic candidate Matt Meagher spoke in favor of the plan, and incumbent Charlie Hastings, previously elected twice as a Democrat but running an independent, said he wasn’t sure about the project.

The four candidates vying for two seats squared off Thursday night during a forum held at McHale Performing Arts Center. About 100 people attended the event sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Cass County and Logansport-Cass County Chamber of Commerce.

Ashcraft said the 18th Street project is more than the beautification project that some have suggested it is.

“We need to improve the infrastructure there,” he said. “With Ivy Tech there, I expect more development in that area.”

Meagher shared similar sentiments. He said the project would improve access to the city’s eastern commercial shopping district.

That’s exactly why Martin opposed the project.

“You’re avoiding our downtown,” he said.

He also deemed it unnecessary to spend money on beautification while cuts are being made to public safety.

Hastings was on the fence about the project.

“I’m not sure I’m in favor of it,” he said.

He said using Burlington Avenue might be a better approach because “it’s already there.”

Martin said scrapping the whole project would be part of his plan to bring jobs to Logansport.

“It starts with not doing that beautification project, not cutting public safety,” he said, talking about the steps he would take to lure businesses to Logansport “It starts with an email and then a phone call.”

Ashcraft said job retention was just as important as job creation.

“If we do that through tax abatement, then it’s worth every penny,” he said.

The candidates shared similar views on what to do with the Logansport Municipal Utilities power plant.

Meagher called for a reassessment of LMU from top to bottom.

“That you can’t pay bills online or use credit cards is indicative of how outdated they are,” Meagher said.

Ashcraft agreed. He said there were many ways to create efficiencies.

He also touched on Duke Energy’s proposal, which called for two years of discounted electric rates in return for shutting down the power plant.

“I didn’t like that they were giving us 30 days to decide something that would last a lifetime,” he said. “We can’t continue tying our hands.”

He said he was opposed to long-term contracts.

Hastings said any plan the city considers should keep the 31 jobs at the power plant.

“Not a one should be lost,” he said.

• Lindsey Ziliak is a staff writer at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or lindsey.ziliak@pharostribune.com.

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