Local Republican candidates debate

Mary Mattingly

The Ripley County Republican candidate debate Monday night had one of the best turnouts in a long time, according to organizers, with over 60 people in attendance. Some may read that as a sign for a stronger than normal turnout for the May Primary. In 2010, it was just 27 percent.

But, there are also several candidates for some high profile positions, such as sheriff and commissioner’s race, that has generated interest in the election.

The sheriff’s and commissioner’s races have three and four Republican candidates, respectively, seeking the party nomination. On the Democrat side, there are two running for sheriff, Tim Sutton and Josh Thompson.

Ripley County Commissioner Candidates

Commissioner candidates on the Republican ticket at the debate, from left, Bill Flannery, Stan Wiedeman,Jay Gayheart and Robert Linville.


Candidates were given the opportunity Monday to answer questions on various topics. Brenda Wetzler, a member of the County Republican Women’s Club and county council member, facilitated the meeting, which was held at the Osgood Town Hall. She told Ripley Publishing she gathered concerns and issues from people across the entire county to comprise the questions posed to the candidates. The questions were screened and none were allowed from the floor. First questions were rotated to the candidates, and each could also offer a rebuttal. Few did during the 90 minute program.

Several of the offices do not have opposition for the May 6 Primary, and those candidates were invited to introduce themselves after the others held a debate, and share about themselves and their platform. Below we’ve included debate responses from most of the questions.

State Senate, District 43
Two candidates, Bill McDonald of Osgood and Chip Perfect of Lawrenceburg, have filed to run for the seat held for many years by Johnny Nugent. He announced his retirement in December, leaving the seat wide open.

McDonald was up first for the debate because of another commitment for the evening, and Perfect showed up later also due to another meeting. Their answers didn’t vary much, as both prefer local government over state rule, and less government when applicable. For example, the question on whether they support legislation to provide distribution of tax funds to local units of government instead of the state, McDonald replied, “It makes common sense. Those tax dollars need to come back to the county where they were generated.”

They are both strong proponents of keeping the riverboat funds within the area, not diverted within the state.

Township trustee positions also came up, as some in the state think they should be eliminated. McDonald said he would not support eliminating township positions. Perfect replied he wasn’t sure yet. “My philosophy is the way we’ve always done it isn’t necessarily the best way, but it might be…But overall I believe in less government and if there is an opportunity for that, I’m for it.”

The Common Core education standard was dropped by the state recently, and McDonald agrees, saying, “I believe the best government is local government.” Perfect, a former ag teacher, said, “I don’t think it’s working now, so Common Core is not the answer and I’m glad to hit the reset button and proud to live in a state that has a perspective there is a better way to do it.”

The state currently establishes the salary of probation officers, funded by local taxes and fees. The two were asked if they would support the state funding for probation salaries or return the authority for salaries to the county council. McDonald, the current jail commander and county council member said, “If the mandate comes from the state, then the wages should come from there. But I prefer to see it (decision-making) on a local level.” Perfect repeated his stance on less government and decisions generated through local government.

Perfect, owner of Perfect North Slopes, was also asked about the marriage amendment to the constitution and replied it’s not a simple answer, and he felt politics played into it. “Yes, I believe marriage is between a man and woman…I support that you should decide not me.”

Commissioners, District 43
Republicans running for commissioner, Bill Flannery, Stan Weideman, Jay Gayheart and Bob Linville, did not differ much on various issues presented. The position is up for grabs because Republican Robert Reiners is not seeking re-election.

The four were asked if they prefer comp time or overtime pay for county departments, and all agreed on comp time. Linville said he could see putting a cap on it, and then go to overtime pay, but not to allow time to be banked. They did differ on the question about supporting a local wheel tax. Flannery and Weideman said no, but Gayheart and Linville were for the tax to help improve roads. Linville said, “I think the roads are in terrible shape and I’d support it.”

As for the issue of county employees using county vehicles while off duty, all agreed the sheriff’s office employees should have use of it. Gayheart said, “I think 100 percent police officers should take it home. To me, when I’m at the grocery store and see it there, I feel safe and I think others do too.” Weideman agreed, but said for other county employees’ use it would depend on their job description. Another question concerned the county’s EMS program and revenue options to maintain it. “I think it’s the biggest issue facing the county,” Weideman said. He is regularly attending the EMS group meetings, as is Flannery. Gayheart is talking to EMS members and groups, and agreed “it’s a big issue.” Linville replied he needed to do more research on the issue.

Editor’s Note: To hear from the sheriff’s candidates on the Republican ticket, county council and other candidates from the debate, see next week’s Osgood Journal.



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