The election for township advisory board and trustee for Jefferson Township, Plain Township, Tippecanoe Township, Turkey Creek Township and Van Buren Township has a variety of candidates running. Candidates for Jefferson Township were unopposed while other townships have races just for the advisory board, township trustee or both.
By Elisa Walker
The Jefferson Township Advisory Board and Trustee are running unopposed.
Beth Krull, Republican incumbent, has been Jefferson Township’s trustee for the past 19 years. Her life has always revolved around farming in the local area with her husband, though she was motivated to help those in her township and keep the tax rate low. Advisory board members have commented on Krull’s great job in being organized and knowledgeable.
Advisory board member Dee Beer, Republican incumbent, has served on the board for more than 12 years. Beer likes to know what goes on in the local area and originally ran to be a part of the board so she could help keep some decisions on a local level and ensure local government has a say in what happens in the community.
Jane Hunsberger, Republican incumbent, has served on the advisory board for about four years. Running for the advisory board was originally a “spur of the moment” decision but Hunsberger has experience in book work and budgeting through her and her husband’s business.
Robert Riley, Republic incumbent, has served on the advisory board for more than 12 years, and was motivated to serve the community in any way he could. Riley taught for 40 years and coached basketball and baseball on and off for 25 years. Riley’s goals for the future include making local cemeteries presentable and to continue supporting fire protection. He also added the advisory board is available for the welfare of those who have times of stress and difficulty.
By ELISA WALKER
Tyler Huffer, Republican, is unopposed for township trustee. Huffer served on the township board for the past three years. As a paramedic, taking care of the community is a part of him and motivates him to continue giving back and assisting the township with his skills and knowledge. Some of his goals include providing good public safety, helping the fire department and improving response times, and to help restore queen cemetery monuments.
Robert Bishop, Republican incumbent, has served on the advisory board for about 16 years and his goal continues to be to keep taxes as low as possible while providing residents with good services. Bishop commented he’s never really been a politician, but felt a need to serve his community as he enjoys knowing what’s happening and does as much as possible to help. He has been a self-employed farmer for the past 40 years.
Craig Charlton, Republican incumbent, has served on the advisory board for 24 years, with his priorities being to provide the best services to the community with adding extra costs and keeping an eye on taxes. In the past 24 years, a new emergency services building was built, all the fire equipment was replaced and the township maintains a good record for relief. Charlton is proud to be a part of that change and to be a part of the township that has one of the lowest tax rates in Kosciusko County. Having been a fireman for the past 34 years, Charlton helps when help is needed.
No photo was available for Charlton.
Larry Kammerer, Republican, is looking to get involved in the great town he lives in. While he has no political experience, he’s a farmer who knows how to control and budget expenses to keep things going successfully. Kammerer’s goals include keeping property taxes as low as possible while giving the fire department the best equipment available.
Gaynor R. Worden, Democrat, spent 45 years in customer service and management, giving him experience in budget expenses and interacting with all kinds of people. Worden wants to lay out the money that is coming in and going out so people are knowledgeable in what the board and trustee has to work with. He also hopes, no matter what political party, more people decide to get involved as serving the community can be done by anyone who is willing to do so.
By ELISA WALKER
Ed Clayton, Republican, is a lifetime resident of Tippecanoe Township, and plans to prioritize the fire department and EMS services within the community from his position on the advisory board. Due to his long residency, he’s been able to watch over the years and see what’s been happening in the community. Clayton commented he wants to be a watchdog on the budgets and look at how to get the most benefits. Having been a local business person, he’s ready to step up to the plate and serve the community he knows well.
James Rhodes, Republican, has served on the township advisory board for four years. Having grown up and lived in Tippecanoe Township his whole life, his family dates back four generations in having lived in the township. Rhodes originally ran for the board because he believes in community service that everyone has the capability to serve in someway through their own talents. As a his business is a part of the local community, Rhodes wants to return the favor by serving the people who have served him.
James Smith, Republican, is a deputy sheriff and fire services volunteer, is looking to give back to the community as much as possible and help re-establish a relationship between emergency services and the township board and trustee. Smith plans to look forward to see what will help better emergency services and what’s best for the community. Smith has lived in Tippecanoe Township for 12 years and served in the military for 12 years.
Chris Francis, Republican, is the advisory board’s current president and is running for township trustee. Along with being a police officer full-time, Francis has been on the fire department for 16 years, giving him some good insight as to what the needs of the community are. Top priorities for him are to upgrade all cemeteries, upgrade all fire department equipment and give the community the best representation possible. Francis commented the fire station and township building need repaired, and plans to reach out to the community to gather input for the best solution.
Francis plans to be out in the community so no one will have to find him. He is also proud his family has lived in the township since the 1800s and had two former trustees in the family.
Rebecca Burton, Democrat, has worked to become part of the community since she moved to Tippecanoe Township. Most of her time is spent participating in community-based events. Burton wants to do her part and set a good example for her daughter by trying to make the world a better place.
Burton plans to make the township trustee’s position known to the public and the trustee can help them when they’re in financial need. She wants to be a resource for those who are struggling financially, believing that since residents are paying taxes for it. Other priorities include keeping the community clean and free of pollution as much as possible in lakes and parks, as well as supporting the needs of the fire department.
Turkey Creek Township
By RAY BALOGH
Three incumbent Republicans face off against a trio of Democratic challengers in the race for Turkey Creek Township advisory board, while Republican Julie Close squares off with Democrat Martha Stoelting for the township trustee position.
The incumbents on the board are Dennis Darr, John Heckaman and William Dixon. The Democrat hopefuls are Victoria Carvey Morton, Jama Owens Brown and Tim Yeager. Voters may select up to three of the candidates at the ballot box Tuesday, Nov. 6.
The candidates were asked three questions. Their responses, in alphabetical order by surname, follow:
1. What are the most important issues facing the township right now?
Close: “I think things in the township are really good right now. We have a good group of people on the advisory board, so I want to continue keeping it that way in moving forward. I can help in poverty relief by making assistance more available to those in need though.”
Stoelting: “The biggest issues are defined by legislation governing being a township trustee. They are administrator of emergency assistance, working with the fire territory, maintaining cemeteries, partitioning fences and destroying detrimental plants. Currently there are no township parks. I will look into the amount of extra funds, almost $5.4 million at the end of 2017, under the township’s care.”
2. How would you address those issues?
Close: “My goals are to not go over budget and take care of the people in the township who need assistance. By continuing with the poverty relief, there could be a weekly time when people could come in and seek assistance while seeing what their options are. I just want to help. There are a lot of different options in our community where we can help people.”
Stoelting: “With the advice of the township board, I will bring the office into the 21st century with a website and Facebook page, expand the hours of service and locations for emergency assistance, work with the fire territory and its board efficiently, continue the upgrade of township cemeteries and explore the option of township parks. Some extra funds need to be maintained for equipment but the large amount needs inspection.”
3. What in your background and experience qualifies you to serve as township trustee?
Close: “I work at The Papers Inc. in the estimating department and have worked at a few accounting firms, so I have a pretty good background in numbers. I feel like I could help in poverty relief. Having been a bus driver for 10 years, I’m a good people person. I love the community I live in and want to give back, which made me think this would be a good way to do that.”
Stoelting: “Living in the area for 29 years, owning my own business and being a staff writer for the local newspapers has given me a depth of knowledge and appreciation of the community as has my volunteer experience. My plan is to keep the tax rate stable and expand services to all citizens and parts of the township as funds are available.”
1. What are the most important issues facing the township right now?
Brown: “To me the most important issues are the drug abuse epidemic, supporting our firefighters and EMTs to make sure they are adequately trained but also staffed, as well as making sure our entire township has access to the trustee’s office.”
Darr: “I don’t think we have any, just a continuation of supporting the fire department and keeping them running smoothly, so I don’t see any things on the horizon.”
Dixon: “Township issues don’t change much: fire department and ambulance service stability, short-term immediate-need poor relief, maintenance of township public properties and a tiny bit of recreational funds.”
Heckaman: “One issue that never changes is continuing our support of the fire department. One issue coming up now is the dam in Syracuse. The township is being asked to help by putting money into it. However, more acreage of the township is outside the watershed than inside. I’ve talked to many of my constituents, and many have said they don’t want their tax dollars spent because it is the town’s responsibility. Other township residents would not be affected by the expenditures. I don’t want to spend township money of taxpayers with no ball in the game, but I want to be fair about it.”
Morton: “One of the most important issues facing the township is the income diversity. Many parents are working, but cannot make a living wage to support their family. Some children attending our schools do not have adequate shoes, clothes, food, supplies or homework support.”
Yeager: “We just discovered the retaining wall of the Syracuse dam has serious issues. It seems because the lake people are part of the township, maybe the township could contribute to the repairs. I see it as something the township needs to do, but we can’t swing the whole cost, nor should we. I also want to take a closer look at poor relief and see if we can do more for people. Other than the town board, we are the local government and it is important if we can be of greater service to our constituents and get more exposure so people know we are here.”
2. How would you address those issues?
Brown: “I support Martha Stoelting’s efforts to install more drop boxes and other places for residents to take unused, unwanted, expired prescriptions, to hire more emergency staff to make sure we don’t run into burnout or fatigue as much as we can help that effort and to open a township office in Enchanted Hills to be more available to that population who might have transportation and scheduling issues to get to Syracuse.”
Darr: “We have an equipment replacement schedule and we are following that as well as we can. We are keeping the equipment in good shape. Poor relief is down because everybody who could have a job probably does have one due to the improving economy.”
Dixon: “Addressing these issues requires long-range planning, stability and maintaining emergency funds for unexpected problems. Township responsibilities aren’t luxuries, so there’s little ground for debate.”
Heckaman: “Maintaining a good working relationship with the town is an important step. It wasn’t that way when I started out. You dreaded going to meetings. But we are working well together now.”
Morton: “The trustee should consult with those in need with dignity and concern. The trustee should connect them with resources, or research more resources for the township. The trustee should have some office hours in Enchanted Hills to serve the east side of the township. The trustee office should have a website. The financial statements, budgets, meeting information, actual office hours and application information should be posted.”
Yeager: “We should be more caring, committed and capable, and be more attentive in meeting people’s needs in the township.”
3. What in your background and experience qualifies you to serve on the township advisory board?
Brown: “While working at a nonprofit for people with disabilities, I’ve seen that availability, transportation and outreach are the biggest hindrance to people utilizing services we are already taxed for. I think by extending those services, stretching the operating hours and continuing the services here, we can help those who might not be served as easily.”
Darr: “I have been on the advisory board for at least eight years, and was a member-at-large of the fire board before that.”
Dixon: “I was on the township board and fire board from 2010 to 2013. I built radio station WAWC-FM and ran it for the community’s benefit for 15 years. I am a former president of the Syracuse-Wawasee Rotary Club and earned both the Syracuse-Wawasee and Greater Warsaw-Kosciusko County Chamber of Commerce ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ awards.”
Heckaman: “I’ve been on the board for about five years, and have run a business since I was old enough to work. Having a good knowledge of equipment helps in my work with the fire department. I’m paid to be on the township board, so since I’m getting paid, if some property or easement needs attention, like leveling or graveling, I have the truck and equipment and do that without taking any money for it.”
Morton: “I have a BS and MBA in accounting from Indiana University. I have spent my career in financial management and auditing. I will bring financial experience to the board. I am involved in many local not-for-profits and have knowledge of township needs.”
Yeager: “I was a schoolteacher in the community for more than 20 years and a photographer here for about 20 years. I have worked in middle management and owned my own business. I was an officer in the Lions Club, a president for one year in the Rotary and president of the Syracuse-Wawasee chamber of commerce, so I have some experience with government.”
Van Buren Township
By DAVID HAZELDINE
Rebecca L. Alles, Republican, has served as Van Buren Township Trustee since 2013 and will continue to do so as she is unopposed in the 2018 election; however, the race for Van Buren Township Advisory Board will feature four candidates vying for three positions. The current board members are all Republicans seeking to maintain their posts: Stephen Unruh, Shane Bucher and Robert Beer. Vickie Marquart, Democrat, is also running for a seat on the board.
Stephen Unruh, Republican incumbent, is a department manager at Warsaw Masonry and cited his desire to serve the community as his main reason for running for the Van Buren Advisory Board.
The most important issues facing the board, said Unruh, are “making sure we are funding and supporting the efforts of our local volunteer fire department,” as well as ensuring “the best coverage for ambulance services.”
Shane Bucher, Republican, is a detective with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department. He has also served 20 years on the Milford Fire Department and overseen the Milford Youth Baseball League for the past four years.
“I’m a lifelong resident of Van Buren Township and have been on the Milford Fire Department for over 20 years, which allows me to understand the needs and importance for our community,” Bucher stated.
“The two most important issues facing the township are balancing the budget for the fire department and providing township assistance for our residents in need. We have been able to continue to provide support for both, while keeping our tax base on the lower level in the county. In 2017, the township purchased two new fire trucks without increasing taxes, and also provides the highest level of fire protection for our families.”
Vickie Marquart, Democrat, has lived in Milford her entire life and has been employed at Chore-Time Brock for 27 years, where she is a customer service representative. “I have watched our town grow and seen many changes,” she said. “It is very important for me to help in any way to keep it going strong.”
“I had the pleasure of being on the board 2013-2014, and I seek the opportunity to serve our town again,” Marquart stated. “We have that option to voice our opinion on issues facing the trustee. It’s nice to know if she’s helping someone in a pinch.”
Robert L. Beer, Republican incumbent candidate for Van Buren Township Advisory Board, was unavailable for comment.