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Harrison County Commissioner, District 2

Election preview

October 15, 2008
Two members of the Harrison County Council vie for District 2 commissioner in Harrison County: Democrat Carl L. (Buck) Mathes and Republican Rhonda J. Rhoads.

Carl L. (Buck) Mathes

Personal: Mathes, 60, of Corydon, is divorced and has three children, Denise Harbeson, Matthew Mathes and Houston Mathes. A 1965 graduate of Corydon Central High School, he also completed a heavy equipment operator's training course at Technical Institute in Braidwood, Ill., auctioneer's school at the American School of Auctioneering in Mason City, Iowa, and a realtor's course at Ivy Tech in Sellersburg. He is a contractor, auctioneer and farmer. He is completing his third term on the Harrison County Council, which, he say, "is responsible for the county's financial health," and is the current chairman of the council. Voters may contact him at 738-2048.

Duties of position sought: The commissioners have the general executive authority and responsibility for county government and legislative authority for ordinance-making purposes. The commissioners appoint individuals to a wide variety of boards and have responsibility over all county property. The county commissioners have many duties other than road and bridge maintenance. There are other administrative duties that come with running the county's business. Commissioners are responsible for furthering economic development, providing veteran services, planning and zoning, and ambulance services.

Why are you seeking the office? I care about the county and want to improve the quality of life here, promote a healthy business climate, and encourage business and industry to prosper to increase the number of good jobs for people.

What qualifies you for the office? Managed Mathes Stone Quarry; business partner in Harbeson Brothers Paving Inc.; auctioneer; contractor; and presently serving as chairman of the Harrison County Council.

What do you consider top issues in the campaign? Safe county roads, financial well being of the county now and in the future, and economic development for our community.

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? Some items in the comprehensive space-needs study are not required at this time. Any items that are necessary should be funded to the greatest extent possible with riverboat gaming revenue to keep property taxes under control. Spending for space needs should only occur when the county can afford it and when it is required.

What actions should the county, specifically the county commissioners, take to promote and foster economic development? Acquire real estate to be used in the future for economic development purposes; coordinate efforts with the Economic Development Corp. and the Chamber of Commerce; support the regional sewer and drainage board in improving the infrastructure for business and industry; and support the construction of a second interchange for I-64 west of Corydon.

What one major change needs to be made in the work of the county commissioners? Why? One county commissioner should be present during business hours in the courthouse, on a rotating basis, to provide better service to the citizens and businesses of Harrison County.

How would you handle the request for tax abatements for the county? Tax abatements are a useful tool to obtain new businesses for the county. All tax abatements should be determined by considering the quality of jobs to be brought to the county, the number of new employees and the type of business. The greater number of new higher paying jobs created by environmentally friendly businesses should justify more tax abatement.

Other comments: If I am elected county commissioner, I will put my 40-plus years of business experience and 12 years of experience on the county council to work for everyone. I am a lifelong resident of Harrison County.

Rhonda J. Rhoads

Personal: Rhoads, 57, of Corydon, is married to Les Rhoads and has a son, Derrick Delaney, and two stepdaughters, Wendy Delaney and Danette Rhoads. She is a 1968 graduate of North Central High School in Ramsey, and earned an Associate of Arts degree at Freed-Hardman College, a Bachelor of Science degree at Indiana State University and a Masters of Arts at Indiana University. She is a retired elementary teacher and is completing her eighth year as an at-large representative on the Harrison County Council. Voters may contact her at 738-1162 (home).

Duties of position sought: Commissioners are the legislative branch of county government. They audit and authorize claims against the county; receive bids and authorize contracts; appoint member to fill boards that have a direct impact on taxpayer dollars; oversee the maintenance of roads, bridges and county buildings.

Why are you seeking the office? When asking questions of the commissioners or other entities asking for money, some have accused me of trying to be a commissioner. I was trying to do the job I was elected to as county council. Now, I am retired from teaching and can offer you my time and desire for factual information in the role of commissioner. I feel there are countless ways we can be more efficient, can tap our current employees for ideas to improve services or save money in their own departments and reward those individuals in some way for those ideas. I would have a yearly inventory of all county equipment. The purchase of office supplies should be bid by companies on a year-by-year basis for all county departments to encourage cost cutting.

What qualifies you for the office? I hope I have proven to the voters that I am a leader not a follower. I tackle difficult issues and do not abandon my principles of truth and integrity in decisions made on these issues. As the saying on President Harry S. Truman's desk said and I believe also, "The buck stops here!" I believe elected officials should accept their responsibility and, as one of three commissioners, I will always take responsibility for my decisions. In the decision-making process, I look for long-term solutions instead of short-term fixes. I love Harrison County and want to make sure when anyone in the state of Indiana hears our county's name, they will have respectful things to say about it.

What do you consider top issues in the campaign? I want to initiate long-range planning sessions with the council for riverboat money usage for five years. I want to work with the other commissioners to develop criteria for evaluating requests for riverboat money. I want to work with the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Corp. in offering workshops for possible entrepreneurs as a way to develop businesses that stay in our community. Our county retired population is going to continue to increase. We need to help entrepreneurs see there are services they can provide to meet those needs for this population. We have many retired residents who have moved here because they have fallen in love with our unique and beautiful landscape. We will need more housing such as patio homes and apartments to supply that need for our "new" neighbors.

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 all of the building and renovation suggestions from RQAW. At the time of the space-needs presentation, I asked for evidence that the first space-needs study (of which this is the third) was close to accurate and was told I would receive that information. That was June of this year, and I still do not have that information. Therefore, I can't determine if this study is worthy of belief or not.

What actions should the county, specifically the county commissioners, take to promote and foster economic development? I will work to foster a close working relationship with the Indiana Dept. of Economic Development to tap into opportunities to bring higher technology companies to our area. Our county needs DSL or wireless Internet connections for its residents and small business owners. However, it is not the business of the county to pay for the infrastructure development and then hand it over to a private company. I would look into some type of incentive for a company who would provide this service to the remote areas of the county.

What one major change needs to be made in the work of the county commissioners? Why? The county commissioners should have work sessions with the county council and other entities that receive a separate tax levy apart from the county general fund for their budgets to sort through ways to be more efficient and less costly while maintaining quality service.

How would you handle the request for tax abatements for the county? Abatements are the responsibility of the fiscal body of the county which is the county council. The company asking for an abatement must follow the Indiana Code based on the type of abatement. It is my understanding that abatements can be given to companies that are high technology providers also.

Other comments: (None.)

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