Editor’s note: Due to an editing error, Marcia Bumgartner’s political affiliation was incorrect. It has been fixed.
By Phoebe Muthart
WARSAW — Three candidates are seeking the nomination for two seats for the Kosciusko County Commissioners.
Republican Marcia A. Baumgartner is challenging incumbent Republican Brad Jackson for the northern district seat.
Cary Groninger, a Republican, is running unopposed for the commissioner middle district.
The three candidates were asked to provide a brief bio and asked the same two questions.
Brad Jackson and his wife, Lynnette, live in Syracuse, where he has run a successful general contracting company, T.L. Jackson Construction, for more than 25 years. He attends the North Webster Church of God, and has participated in the Big Brothers-Big Sisters program, and he taught Financial Peace University classes to local residents. He serves on the boards of the Kosciusko County Economic Development Corporation, Kosciusko County Solid Waste District, and OrthoWorx Advisory board, and other various boards in past years. Jackson has served as Kosciusko County Commissioner for 24 years, where he is “proud to honor local veterans each month and support Kosciusko County’s long-term success.”
Marcia A. Baumgartner is originally from North Webster, but lives in Milford now. She graduated from Wawasee High School. She has been married to Sam Baumgartner for 42 years. They have three children and four grandchildren. She is an associate member of the Agnes Pruyn Chapman Kosciusko County chapter of National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Patriot Adrian Anglin Kosciusko County, and Kosciusko County Historical Society, and Kosciusko County Republican Women.
Cary Groninger is in his first campaign. The 52-year-old Kosciusko County Commissioner was appointed by a Republican caucus to replace Ron Truex in 2017.
His appointment was his first foray into county government. While there is a big learning curve to understanding the ins and outs of county government, Groninger said he has come to appreciate the work of county employees.
“I see it as a real opportunity for me to give back to the community that I love,” Groninger said this week.
Groninger is president of the family-owned G&G Hauling and Excavating, Warsaw.
1. Why do you feel you are qualified?
Jackson: I have many years of experience in leadership in the county and a track record of successful outcomes for the people of Kosciusko County. I bring practical experience and lessons learned from many years of experience running a local business. I am fiscally and morally conservative in my decisions. My relationships with both state and federal elected officials help me address issues that affect the people of our county.
Baumgartner: I feel I am qualified to be elected for Kosciusko County Commissioner-Northern District. My duties as Van Buren Township Trustee (1983-1990) prepared me to negotiate fire and EMS contracts, to levy tax rates within budget parameters and to rely on others for guidance. The assessing taught me how and where our budget money comes from. As a Kosciusko County Deputy Assessor (2005-2015), I audited abatements and personal property tax returns to ensure compliance with state codes. This brought new meaning to the term “caught in the middle” for me. Diplomacy was definitely a must. If elected, this would be my only employment, I am able to give taxpayers 100 percent.
Groninger: He said he feels he is – in some ways – uniquely qualified to serve as a commissioner because of his familiarity with many of the things, such as construction, that happen in county government and his business.
“I just overall felt called that this is what I need to be doing at this point in my life,” Groninger said. “We’re fortunate in the fact that we’ve got a county that is still growing. A lot of counties aren’t. I think we have a lot to be thankful for.”
He said he enjoys getting directly involved in projects.
2. If you are re-elected or become county commissioner, by seeking the nomination, what are the three main things that need to be addressed in the county?
Jackson: 1. Continue working to make it practical for Polywood to continue its amazing growth and expand employment in Syracuse, by helping them solve their electric, road and water disposal issues.
2. Continue working on the CR 1300 North railroad overpass in Milford in order to provide safer and more efficient transportation for school buses, emergency vehicles, industry and the general public.
3. Improve emergency responders radio communication by adding towers and other equipment as required. The county has made repairs to our current system over the years in order to continue use and support emergency response. The system is now at a point where continuing to “patch” it is not a wise use of funds, and it needs this major update in order to function adequately for our needs. We want to carefully use our tax dollars, while ensuring we have an adequate communication system to keep us safe.
Baumgartner: There are three things I would like to work toward. First, maintain unity within our county government, while recognizing and promoting diversity. Second, assist in future planning to avoid overcrowding of roads, justice system and our beloved courthouse, while being fiscally responsible. Third, transparency.
Groninger: Two issues he wants to see the county delve deeper into in the next year or so is the upgrading of the county’s emergency services radio communication. There is also an effort to establish online permitting for residents through the county.
Groninger is a board member for the drainage board, Michiana Area Council of Governments and is involved in the US 30 Coalition, which is looking at options for a new US 30 through Kosciusko County.