Five people are vying for three county council at-large seats. Republican incumbents Robert (Bob) Sanders (R) and Larry Teghtmeyer (R) are vying for the seats against Democrats Joshua Bartman and Lee Ann Brown and Republican Jonathan Fussle.
Meet The Candidates
Robert Sanders has been a Kosciusko County resident since 1979. He is the president and co-owner of Bodkin Abstract Co. He and his wife, Sharon, reside near the Barbee Lakes chain and have three children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Sanders is serving his second term as county councilman at-large. He also serves on the policy board of the Michiana Area Council of Governments, Lakeland Regional Sewer District Board, and Kosciusko Economic Development Corp., and he serves as the county’s liaison to the Kosciusko County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Sanders is an Air Force veteran and has several civic involvements, including the Rotary Club and Kosciusko County Board of Realtors, among others.
Larry Teghtmeyer is a lifelong Kosciusko County resident. He is the owner of Teghtmeyer Ace Hardwares stores in Syracuse and Auburn. He owned North Webster Ace Hardware for 32 years. He lives near Tippecanoe Lake with his wife, Cathy. He is a graduate of North Webster High School and attended Ball State and Purdue universities. He is a U.S. Army veteran, having served from 1966 to 1968. He was elected for five terms as first district county councilman from 1975 to 1994. He is currently serving his third term as county councilman at-large. He is the county council’s appointment for the wage committee and the Kosciusko County Redevelopment Commission.
Jonathan Fussle lives in Warsaw with his wife, Kaitlyn. The couple are expecting their first child in December. He graduated from Wawasee High School and Holy Cross College, Notre Dame. He is a small business owner and a professional pilot.
Lee Ann Brown is a lifelong Hoosier, a 1995 Columbia City High School graduate, and has been in Kosciusko County for the past 15 years. She has been married to her husband, Arthur, for 14 years. She is co-chairman of the Kosciusko County Democratic Party and has held that position for just over two years, but was active in the party before that.
Josh Bartman lives in Warsaw but is originally from Dayton, Ohio. His family moved to Warsaw 15 years ago. He was a manager at Northpointe Cinemas, Warsaw, and worked at Wal-Mart for nearly six years. He currently works for Hilton Worldwide and is single.
1. Why are you running for county council?
Teghtmeyer: “Having grown up in Kosciusko County and being a long-time businessman and citizen in the community, I have a long-standing interest in the economic health and well-being our county along with the delivery of quality government services at a reasonable cost.”
Sanders: “Ask any county councilman and they will tell you it takes a couple of years to fully understand county finances and all the procedures, regulations, and timetables mandated by the State Board of Accounts. I decided to run again, because I feel a true duty to share the knowledge and experience that I have gained during my last eight years as a councilman-at-large.”
Bartman: “While I think our current council is doing fine, I feel there is a large portion of the population who are under represented. We need new and diverse blood injected into the council, people who bring a new perspective to the table and innovative ideas to promote growth within the county. I believe that I would be that new perspective and the voice for those who feel their voices have not been heard.
“I would like to work with the tax code to find new and innovative incentives for companies to start here, move here or do business here. One thing I would like to do is to create a sensible film tax credit to entice filmmakers of all kinds to take advantage of our picturesque landscapes. If done right, a film incentive could be a real economic boost for our area, from employment to tourism.
“I would like to work with the orthopedic companies along with the state and federal governments to find an alternative to the medical device tax. Before repealing it outright we must come together to find an alternative that works for all parties.
“Lastly, on the subject of attracting business to the area, we must do better in diversifying the industries that come into our county. If the market is flooded with too much of the same thing, then none of those businesses are going to thrive. Having too much of the same thing is going to overwhelm the market and spread the money too thinly between each business, negatively affecting an already lethargic job market. While I’m all for healthy competition, we must realize that we are not Allen or St. Joseph counties and don’t have the population to support such business models, we can’t put all our economic eggs in so few baskets.”
Fussle: “I am running for county council because I have a passion for service. Kosciusko County is facing some serious challenges in the next five to 10 years, and I feel like we’ve always spent our time looking at the next 12 months. For example, Biomet is only 35 years old and look how much it has shaped our community. We need to foster the growth of the next big thing in Kosciusko County, while ensuring that the orthopedic industry continues to grow here. It’s an exciting time.”
Brown: “As I’ve lived in Kosciusko County, I always hear complaining about the things going on in the county and the city, but no one ever votes the people out; they aren’t offered a choice. I am running to give the people a choice, to offer a different option from what we’ve always had. As I look at the council, I see the some of the same faces and they’ve been in those seats for decades. We can’t expect our county to continue to go forward if we have the ideas of 20 years ago still being enacted. Another choice I’m offering, is a different perspective, we haven’t had any variety of voices, there is only a male perspective on the board. I give the choice to change that, to allow representation for the women of the county.”
2. What qualifications do you feel you possess for the position?
Teghtmeyer: “I believe my previous council and long-term business experience and knowledge of county government along with my interest in studying issues carefully, prepares me to make important decisions, which are critical to the county. Kosciusko County has one of the lowest property tax rates in the state and stands out as being one of the most financially healthy ones. I pledge that I will continue being a good steward of taxpayers’ money ensuring it’s used prudently.”
Sanders: “Unfortunately each year, we receive less and less money from the state and federal governments. The amount of tax dollars we have available to spend has been affected by the reduced gas tax revenue we receive, from the state, the property tax cap, and decreased home values. Having past county government experience, as well as a business background, absolutely does matter when you are working with a $19.3 million dollar budget in these tough economic times.”
Bartman: “The wonderful thing about our system is that it was designed to give everyone the opportunity to be representative of their fellow citizen, each person reading this is qualified in their own unique way to hold any elected position they desire. As for me, my qualifications are quite diverse.
“I bring to the table the perspective of someone who is on the ground floor, who sees firsthand the benefits and consequences of decisions made by the top, by people who may or may not be affected personally by such decisions. I believe I will be a true representative of the people of this county.
“I am currently serving as president of the county’s young Democrats, I oversaw the organization and management of youth outreach for the Indiana Young Democrats for both the second and third congressional districts where I also served as a state officer and as communications director. Over the past five years, I have served this county as their representative to both national, state and local elections as county coordinator and consultant for nine different campaigns and have represented your interests twice at state party conventions.
“I both live and work in Warsaw, and I attended Ivy Tech College for two years. Over the last five years, I have spent countless hours listening to the needs of the people of this county, I have stayed tuned in to how national and state politics effect us at the local level, I have made improving this county in the little ways I can a full time job and I am ready to take it to the next level.”
Fussle: “I am running for county council because I am a small business owner and a political outsider. As a small business owner, I know about what it takes to balance a budget, cut costs, find solutions, think outside the box, and get the job done. As a political outsider, I am ready to do whatever it takes to do the job in the best interest of the people of Kosciusko County. As a pilot, I see our county from a perspective that few ever get to see. This provides me with an opportunity to visualize the effects of growth, zoning, traffic flow, policy, and even the effect that climate has on our farmers.”
Brown: “I’m not a business owner, unlike most of the current council members, but I work hard in manufacturing. I know what it’s like for most of our working families, how to look over a budget and decide what is important and what can be put off for a later date. But I also know how to look at the budget and decide if maybe in the long run it’s makes more sense to spend now, than pay later.”