"We talk about it daily," Judy Anderson said. "People are upset with the city -- but if the city goes down, the county goes down."
(Please note that links have been provided for all candidates' Facebook pages that are available and who were scheduled to appear in forum.)
Several local candidates participated in a forum to introduce themselves and discuss ideas about current issues in the community, including Terre Haute's financial challenges, jail overcrowding, proposed Hulman Center renovations, drug abuse and other topics.
Forum participants included Democrat candidates for three races, including contested offices of Judge of the Circuit Court Division 3, Clerk of the Circuit Court and Vigo County commissioners. The League of Women Voters of Vigo County, the Vigo County Library and a local newspaper sponsored the candidate forum for the upcoming May Primary election in the lower level of the library.
Judy Anderson, incumbent commissioner candidate, says she has been passionate about her terms in various offices. She has previously served as county councilwoman.
Dave Crockett, commissioner candidate, is the current county clerk. He said a highlight of his career was his time working as a law enforcement officer for the Vigo County Sheriff's Office. He has also served as county treasurer in the past.
He feels his experience can benefit the county.
"We need better communication throughout the county," Crockett said. "If an issue comes up to me, I try to find out what the problem is, where the problem is and how we can solve the problem."
Anderson pointed out major projects underway that she's been involved with, including Margaret Avenue and Springhill Road projects and development at the Industrial Park.
"We have to continue to work on those types of things. The economic development of this county has grown over the years and I'm very proud of that," she said, adding it takes a lot of people to make things happen.
Both commissioner candidates agree that they see jail overcrowding and an outdated facility as problems that need addressing. Anderson informed the audience that the commissioners will host a meeting at South High School April 11 at 6 p.m. for more community discussion on jail issues.
Regarding city budget challenges and county finances, both candidates agree that the county needs to pitch in to help Terre Haute out through turbulent times.
"We talk about it daily," Anderson said. "People are upset with the city -- but if the city goes down, the county goes down."
Crockett said he thinks there are several things the county can do to help the City of Terre Haute. He envisions future work with city leaders and city council members "to work through issues the city has." He added that bringing new jobs to the community would solve some problems.
The candidates for other offices discussed their strengths.
Sarah Mullican, candidate for Circuit Court judge, described her law career and noted that she is also an associate visiting professor in political science at Indiana State University. She is the current City Court Judge.
John Kesler, her opponent, is a lifetime resident of Vigo County. He described his athletic background during his high school and college years.
"Athletics obviously played an important role in my life. I feel like that gives me a real good body of work on team work, fellowship and scholarship," he said.
Kesler described himself as a perfectionist. He believes his greatest accomplishment was when he was a young 29-year-old lawyer, representing a 16-year-old male charged with capital murder, a death penalty case. He successfully defended the client, he said, noting that he will never forget it.
"When you're the judge, you want to get it right," he said, adding he is a tireless worker.
Mullican said her strength is having a high standard for herself and others, while also being empathetic.She believes her greatest accomplishment has been presiding over City Court as judge.
"I'm even-handed and fair, with a good judicial temperment. I often see people in City Court in difficult circumstances, and I think I've been fair and allow them to feel they've had their case heard, no matter who they are or where they come from," she said.
One question posed by moderator and Indiana State University associate professor Matt Bergbower this evening concerned typical low voter turnout in the community, which may have been reflected in the small small audience in attendance at the forum to hear candidates speak.
Candidates in attendance for office of county clerk both said the recently proposed voting center plan that was defeated would have potentially increased interest in local elections.
John Walters said it was a "great" idea, noting that his granddaughter is a student there. He feels his previous work running a daycare gives him invaluable experience needed for public service.
Don Wilson agreed, saying the proposed voting center was an "excellent idea." He believes it would have been an opportunity to get more people involved locally. He describes himself as a problem solver.
Candidate Kevin Burke was not in attendance, as he is reportedly out of the state on a family vacation.
The forum lasted a little more than an hour. About 20 minutes into discussion, an audience member attempting to stand up fell to the floor. He was not hurt in the incident.
The Vigo County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an early morning single-vehicle crash in the southern part of the county after an allegedly impaired driver struck a utility pole.
The driver, Justin M. Richey, 30, was transported to a local hospital for treatment of injuries suffered in the accident. He is facing several charges when he is released, including: Operating a vehicle as a habitual traffic violator (level 6 felony;) operating a vehicle while never receiving a license (class-A misdemeanor;) and operating a vehicle while intoxicated (class-A misdemeanor.)
Deputies responded to the 5400 block of West Middletown Drive at around 2 a.m. A 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee had left the roadway and struck a WIN Energy utility pole.
According to Chief Deputy John Moats, it was determined that Richey had a Blood Alcohol Content of .14 percent along with testing positive for controlled substances, while he was being treated at the emergency room.
“Mr. Richey has several pending charges once he is released from hospital care,” Moats said, explaining that deputies reportedly were told by Richey that he was the sole occupant in the vehicle and that he had lost control when he swerved to avoid a collision with a deer. Richey was not wearing a seatbelt.
Responding Deputies: Deputy Drew Stangle and Deputy Ryan Hartleroad. Responding Agencies:Riley Medic 92,Prairie Creek Fire Department, WIN Energy and McDonalds Wrecker Service.
© Indiana Central News. All rights reserved. Terre Haute, Indiana
News Writer: Lucy Pery PHONE: 317-527-4141