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Commissioners, clerk, recorder, treasurer

Candidates for county offices debate

Mary Mattingly

There are several contested races this year for county offices among the Republican party. The Ripley County Republican Women’s Club hosted a debate March 28 so citizens could learn more about the candidates. The debate, moderated by State Rep. Randy Frye, began with questions to the coroner and council candidates, which were both featured in Thursday’s The Versailles Republican. Answers from the candidates for the commissioners, clerk, recorder and treasurer offices follow. The debate format had the candidates introduce themselves, and then they had two minutes to respond to a prepared question drawn from a basket. The opponent (s) then had a one minute rebuttal or follow up.

There are two commissioner seats up for election, district 2 and district 3. Gary Stutler of Friendship, currently a commissioner, and Greg Federmann of Versailles are running for district 3, and Rodney Stratton of Holton and Bill McDonald of Osgood are running for district 2. McDonald was not present at this debate. Stutler was asked first to explain the duties of the commissioners and the county council and how the two are related. “We control more than I imagined, from EMT’s to sheriff, courthouse and highway garage,” he said. “It’s a job! But I think we have done well in the last 7 years. We make the recommendations and council approves the money. “

Ripley County Commissioner candidatesMARY MATTINGLY PHOTO
Commissioner candidates at the debate were from left Gary Stutler, Greg Federmann and Rodney Stratton

Greg Federmann has been attending some commissioner meetings, and said it’s been an “eye-opening experience. I’ve learned a lot.” He has not been to a council meeting, “but I know they control the money and I look forward to working with them.” Stratton replied the commissioners conduct the county business, and work with council on the money, and both try to save funds the best they can. Federmann took the question on how to establish procedures for use to approve claims. He said he’s been on the other side of claims, but “I think our elected officials can be trusted.” Stratton brought up bids and said they must be from reputable sources, and that “sometimes the low bid isn’t the best.” Stutler said they require two or three bids and determine the best one for the county. Stratton chose a question and it was the same as the council candidates about the drug problem in the county and what to do to combat it. He suggested there are several avenues to go through, and to gather opinions and input for a better outcome. Stutler replied commissioners are very aware of the county drug problem and support efforts to curb it. Federmann commented he would gather input and do what they can to reduce the problem.

Ripley Co. Clerk
Ginger Bradford of Versailles and Elaine Haessig Mortara of Dillsboro are both running for the clerk’s office. Bradford has been clerk before and Mortara has worked in the office the past 7 years. The first question went to Mortara and it was about vote centers. Mortara replied she is not familiar with the concept, but did like the idea of e-poll pads. Bradford said, “I know about them (vote centers) but I’m not sure they are good for Ripley County. Switzerland County likes it and it doesn’t cost them much to run it. For larger counties, it is more costly. Polling places are the best for us now; the older people know where to go,” she said. Bradford was asked about the importance of cross training the clerk staff, and she replied, “I think it is one of the most important things we can do in the office.” Mortara said she has been trained to fill in for all areas. ”I can do anything in the office and the front office also. We’ve had several people out sick so it is important to have someone to step in.”


There are four people running for the county recorder position. Mark Busching of Versailles, currently a commissioner, and Mary Ann McCoy of Osgood, the current county clerk, Keri McDonald Johnson of Osgood, and Melissa Gartenman Hinners of Batesville. There were only two questions prepared.
Ripley County Recorder candidates

Recorder candidates at the debate pictured from left, Melissa Hinners, Mary Ann McCoy, Keri Johnson and Mark Bushing.

Hinners took the first: What are the duties of the recorder? She replied since she has not been in office she was not as aware, but knows that they conduct title searches, deeds, and also work with genealogy records. McCoy said it also includes veterans discharge filings, and trusts. “It’s the accuracy of the office to make sure all is filed if a title searcher comes in they can find it.” Johnson said the recorder duties involve the paperwork recording for death certificates, property deeds and other documents, and to supply copies upon request. Bushing said the office was the first constitutional office created in the state, and “it’s to keep a safe place for important documents, such as property deeds, wills, trusts…” McCoy responded first to the question if there was sufficient staff. “I know they have two deputies and I’m sure we could always use more help in the office. I know they do a lot of recording and scanning.” Johnson said she would have to evaluate that based on how much work is coming in, and Busching said he thought it was efficient and sufficient in the current operations. Hinners agreed she would evaluate the staff and work to see the needs or if there was overlap.

Amy Copeland of Versailles, the county treasurer, and David Lawrence of Versailles, are on the ballot for treasurer. Copeland took the first question, which was if the EMS billing doesn’t get figured out what are your suggestions?
Ripley County Treasurer candidates

Treasurer candidates Amy Copeland, left, and David Lawrence, participated in the debate.

“We’re working on this as we speak. I am meeting with Medicount this week,” and the new EMS director, she replied. The revenue is starting to flow, but she wants to make sure bills are sent and payment received. Lawrence said he understands the funding has not gone well, but needs to learn more to answer better. The next question was about the auditor and treasurer’s office working together, and how to ensure funds are deposited or spent in the proper manner. Lawrence said he supports anything the county can do to ensure the money is spent properly. “I’m sure they are doing alright or we’d have some serious problems. There are checks and balances being done.” Copeland said her office triple checks everything, and it that goes to the auditor’s office, and provides a receipt, and checks again at the end of the day. “We balance monthly and there has never been a month when we have not balanced.”

The debate ended about an hour after it started. Prior to the local candidates speaking, Randy Head, a state senator for district 18, introduced himself as a candidate for the attorney general and briefly addressed the crowd. He presented his experience and desire to be the state’s next attorney general. “Hire me to be your lawyer,” he said.

Local Bulletin Board

Deadline: April 18, 2016

Dearborn County Hospital accepting scholarship applications

The Dearborn County Hospital Foundation is now accepting applications for its High School Senior Scholarship Program for the 2016-2017 school year. Scholarships of $500 each are presented by the DCH Foundation High School Senior Scholarship Program to area seniors who will be pursuing healthcare careers after graduation. To read the entire article, read page 6 of the Osgood Journal dated March 22.

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