The Cass County Democratic Party is mounting an offensive for claiming multiple positions in township government this fall.
The party announced earlier this week that it would be adding four candidates to the ballot in November. Logansport city council member Kerry Worthington will seek the Eel Township trustee’s position while Dave Oresik will be vying for a spot on the Eel Township advisory board, Steve Russell will be seeking a seat on the Miami Township advisory board and Scott McMinn will mount a campaign for Noble Township trustee.
Their motivation, says party chair Matt Meagher, is to ensure elected officials fairly represent residents of the townships rather than focusing mostly on establishing a fire district.
“To narrow down the township offices just to fire districts is a disservice to residents of those townships,” Meagher said. “It’s time we start talking about the rest of it.”
Meagher was in part responding to a claim made by former state Sen. Tom Weatherwax following Tuesday’s commissioners meeting that candidates seeking the township positions should not be doing so under the impression they will be on the board that governs the fire district for Clay, Eel, Noble and Miami townships.
“To say we’re only running to seek power on that board is disingenuous at best,” Meagher said.
Weatherwax, a member of the Clay Township advisory board, explained that the intent of the fire district ordinance that passed Tuesday was that the board remain independent. He pointed out that unlike the fire territory that Mayor Mike Fincher vetoed earlier this year, the fire district cannot have certain people on its governing board.
“I hope these guys know for this fire district you can’t be on this board if you’re a trustee, an advisory board member or a fireman,” Weatherwax said.
After reviewing the list of Democratic candidates, Weatherwax expressed his disbelief about their intentions as stated by Meagher.
“It seems sort of ironic that right now because of all the things we’re doing this becomes a very sought-after position,” Weatherwax said.
“That’s fine but I’m here to tell you there’s a lot of work involved, and it won’t be doing anything with this fire district after this thing is set up.”
Meagher said the candidates know the job duties of each office, and if elected, they would focus on other issues facing the townships. He added they would also be more accountable to voters.
“I think it’s fair to ask if the residents of these townships have the been well served by trustees and advisory boards,” said Meagher, who questioned whether the current group can establish fire protection by the Jan. 1 deadline.
“If they want to have control, they can go down that road, but I think they assume this is going to be a walk in the park and it’s going to be a hike up a mountain,” he said.
• Kevin Lilly is news editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5117 or email@example.com.