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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, October 15, 2016 10:01 pm

3 standouts top field for County Council

The seven-member Allen County Council controls the purse strings, while the three county commissioners set policy. But public policy and public money are tightly intertwined. In a time of growth and change, the council’s members must bring vision to the table along with the ability to make fiscal decisions.

Voters will choose among six candidates to fill three at-large seats on the council Nov. 8. Republicans Roy Buskirk and Eric Tippmann and Democrat Palermo Galindo merit your vote.

A member of the council since 2004 and currently its president, Buskirk has developed a sure grasp of the county’s needs and challenges and a keen understanding of public finance. He understands tax and revenue questions better than many state legislators. He takes on unexciting but necessary tasks such as cutting through red tape so businesses and residents don’t have to deal with separate city and county permitting.

With customary frankness, Buskirk told his colleagues in August that the liver cancer he had been battling for months had spread to his bones. Last week, in a wheelchair, he told our editorial board he had considered retiring from public service, but discussion of possible tax increases to finance Regional Cities projects kept him in the race. Buskirk said he supports riverfront development and other steps forward but that there are other ways to fund those projects. "We don’t need any more taxes," he said.

If the day comes when he isn’t strong enough to do the job, Buskirk said, "I’ll quit. ... I am not going to sit home and draw a paycheck."

Galindo would bring a different perspective and a different set of skills to the council. Born in Mexico, Galindo came to the United States when he was 15, moved to Fort Wayne in about 1994, earned a degree from IPFW and raised a family here. He became a U.S. citizen in 1997. He built a career in multicultural outreach and now works with neighborhoods throughout the city as community liaison for Mayor Tom Henry.

As a council member, Galindo said, he would look at county government department by department to eliminate duplication of services or other kinds of wasteful spending. He also wants to be an advocate for revitalization, pointing to the effort to build Parkview Field as an example of the kind of leadership the community needs.

"A lot of people see me as an advocate for the community, a person they can rely on and trust," he said. "I listen to people. I never say that I know everything, but I can find ways to make things happen."

Another potential bright new voice on the council is Tippmann, who last year ran unsuccessfully for a City Council at-large nomination in a crowded Republican primary field. Tippmann grew up in Fort Wayne but worked in Europe before returning here as an assistant professor of chemistry at IPFW.

Tippman, who has a talent for analyzing and explaining issues, would like to focus on the budgeting process and work on health care issues.

He is a strong advocate of riverfront development and believes such projects help sell visitors on the other assets.

"We’re at war with all these other cities (on development)," Tippmann said. "You’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game."

Democrat Morrison Agen, owner of Neat Neat Neat Records on South Calhoun Street, is another young candidate who understands the urgency of the community’s economic development efforts. His enthusiasm and creativity make him someone to watch in future elections. 

Two-term incumbent Bob Armstrong and David Roach are also in the race.

Coming Monday: Southwest Allen and East Allen county school boards