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Harrison County Comissioner, District 1


Election preview


October 15, 2008
Democrat commissioner James Goldman is challenged by Republican Phil A. Smith in the race for District 1 commissioner in Harrison County.

James Goldman

Personal: Goldman, 61, of Depauw, is married to Kathy and has two children, Jamie Rennirt and Jared Goldman, and three stepchildren, Christian Cox, Travis Mott and Hope Mott. He is a 1965 graduate of North Central High School, served in the Navy, was in the Naval engineering school and is a dairy farmer. He served 12 years on the North Harrison Community School Corp. board of trustees, one term on the 4-H Council and is completing his eighth year as a county commissioner. Voters may contact him at James-Goldman@hotmail.com or 738-2740.

Duties of position sought: In charge of all public buildings, all county roads and bridges, negotiate all county contracts and sign same, ambulance service, appointments to boards that serve county, solid waste district, set wage boards and hold public hearings, many other duties of the county that come before the board of commissioners.

Why are you seeking the office? I enjoy public service and giving of my time to benefit our county.

What qualifies you for the office? My past work in related fields and my experiences in life have prepared me to meet the challenges of the office. My commitment to our community the past 40 years.

What do you consider top issues in the campaign? Riverboat spending and the need to address our space needs for all county offices.

Based on the findings of the recent comprehensive space-needs study, do you support a robust plan to fulfill the needs found by the study? Why or why not? Yes, I do. We can accomplish our needs using riverboat monies without raising taxes on our citizens.

What actions should the county, specifically the county commissioners, take to promote and foster economic development? We need to refocus our attention toward smaller businesses which tend to stay in our community. With our new hospital now operational, we should try to attract health care-related business. Also, we must assist our Regional Sewer District so we can promote growth in other areas of the county.

What one major change needs to be made in the work of the county commissioners? Why? I believe that the time is right for full-time commissioners, with at least one accessible at the courthouse or highway department every day.

How would you handle the request for tax abatements for the county? There needs to be a formula which a business would have to meet before qualifying for an abatement, such as certain pay and benefit packages for employees. Companies which have a record of moving from place to place should not receive abatements.

Other comments: If elected, I will be available any day or time to respond to the needs of our community!

Phil A. Smith

Personal: Smith, 63, of Depauw, is married to Carletta K. Smith and has a daughter, Michele L. Clifton. He is a 1963 graduate of North Central High School, served four years in the Air Force during Vietnam and is a retired business analyst. He has no political experience. Voters may contact him at 347-2253 (home), 267-6459 (cell) or psmith235@gmail.com.

Duties of position sought: Commissioners have a wide range of duties. Some are controlling, maintaining and supervising county property and equipment; supervising of construction and maintenance of roads and bridges; preparing budgets over which they exercise direct control; receiving of bids and authorization of contracts; and authorize the payments of claims against the county.

Why are you seeking the office? To ensure that each "taxpayer" dollar (including riverboat) is spent wisely and effectively for which the commissioners are responsible.

What qualifies you for the office? Forty years of business experience as a computer operator, computer programmer and business analyst. I have experience in inventory control, accounts payable, accounts receivable and accounting reporting.

What do you consider top issues in the campaign? Property taxes and excessive spending.

Based on the findings of the recent comprehensive space-needs study, do you support a robust plan to fulfill the needs found by the study? Why or why not? I do not support the robust plan for the following reasons: If you read the master plan final report dated 6-2-08, you will find where six counties were used for a comparison of county staffing analysis. The report stated "Evaluation of the counties surveyed revealed that none of them provided all of the services or programs offered by Harrison County." This should have prompted the question "What is Harrison County doing different than the others and why?" A review of the answers to that question may have resulted in a change to the staffing analysis and final recommendation. The plan commits Harrison County from Phase 1 on to react to a 25-year trend that may or may not happen. Many things could change in 25 years. Therefore, a shorter time frame of 5 to 10 years, I think, would be more appropriate.

What actions should the county, specifically the county commissioners, take to promote and foster economic development? Work aggressively to bring jobs to the county.

What one major change needs to be made in the work of the county commissioners? Why? To keep our public more informed as to what our county government is doing I suggest the following: To videotape all public meetings held by the commissioners and county council. Copies would be distributed to each member, auditor's office, three distribution points for public check out at Palmyra, Corydon and Elizabeth, and a Web site on the Internet.

How would you handle the request for tax abatements for the county? A tax abatement is usually given to expand or retain jobs for the requesting party. There are different types of tax abatements, some are: traditional, investment and capital. Each abatement has its own requirements. Some have date restrictions; some have dollar limits. All requirements are stated in the Indiana Code. I would like to suggest the following process flow be used when a tax abatement is requested. Requesting party submits request to county council. County council attorney reviews request for completeness, any restrictions that may apply, dollar limits and if requester qualifies. County council attorney advises council of findings. County council approves or denies request. If request is granted, county council schedules a follow-up review to ensure tax abatement given has expanded or retained jobs. If not, proceed with removal of tax abatement.

Other comments: Some goals I want to accomplish as commissioner: Decrease the minimum dollar amount required for sealed bids from $25,000 to $1,000; work with the water companies to get city water available to people in the northwestern part of the county; and sell the Wennings facility property located in Central Barren, to get it back on the tax rolls.

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