FORT WAYNE – Five Republicans are vying for the three available at-large seats on Steuben County Council.
Incumbents William L. Booth and Linda Hansen are joined in the race by Ruth (Hughes) Beer, Daniel J. Caruso and Keith V. Chrysler.
In the Democratic primary, only two candidates – Leslie Raymer and Lee P. Sauer – are in the race for three seats. The four-year position pays $8,000 annually.
Booth has been on the council for 22 years and is its president. In addition to farming, the 67-year-old Orland resident also works for Miller Poultry.
Now that the economy is beginning to turn around, Booth said, the council needs to continue its focus on taking advantage of opportunities.
I just kind of like to get the best bang for the buck in terms of taxpayers dollars, he said.
He cited the countys work to draw a Dollar General warehouse, which was outside the county but will benefit its residents, and a possible loan to improve railroad tracks that would not only benefit the area but could then be used for other projects after its paid back.
Hansen, 66, is seeking her third term on the council. The Angola resident retired from county employment in March after 26 years in payroll. She also spent eight years as county auditor.
From my perspective, qualifications matter in terms of understanding the process, Hansen said. Being county auditor for eight years prepared me for this – county government is a unique bird, its not like private industry.
Hansen said the many pressures the council faces – such as declining revenues and taxpayers who want more services but lower taxes – require candidates who already speak the language.
Youve got to be advocates for everybody, she said. It makes for a very challenging budget session.
Beer doesnt have actual experience on the council, but comes close. She says shes attended almost every council and commissioners meeting held over the past year.
Before I even decided what I was going to run for I made sure I knew what I was getting into, she said.
The 50-year-old Pleasant Lake resident has worked at Wayside Furniture and Flooring in Angola for 27 years and also has a farming business with her brother. She said the council needs to use its Major Moves money from the state to boost the local economy.
That needs to only be used for projects that will help the majority of residents of Steuben County, and most importantly to improve the job situation, Beer said.
Angola resident Caruso, 45, has owned Carusos restaurant since 1976. He said county government is doing little or nothing to help the economy.
The Ball State University study scored our county an F for what theyve contributed in job creation and quality of living, Caruso said.
The council, they deal with the appropriation of funds; my skill set is in helping departments do the best they can with the budgets they have.
He said the county needs leadership to take advantage of its assets such as the crossroads of the Indiana Toll Road and Interstate 69, its lakes and tourism.
Were two hours from six major markets, Caruso said. Were right in the middle of everything.
Chrysler, 57, owns and operates Chrysler Farms LLC and has run for council twice before, coming in second two years ago. He said the biggest issue facing the county is wasteful spending.
I have county employees asking me all the time why they dont get raises when other people in county government do get raises, Chrysler said. Theres a lot of budgetary issues; we may not be able to afford to give everyone a raise. I have to look at the budget first.
He said he has spent the last decade working on cost reduction in industry, preparing him for a position on the council.
The one place (cost reduction) has not been done is in government, Chrysler said. Its time to see the taxpayers are getting their moneys worth.