Clark County Council – Democratic Primary

As a newcomer to Clark County, I have been doing some research on the contested races on the primary ballot, and I figured I would share my work in case it helps anyone else.

Unfortunately, the horrendous design of the News and Tribune website makes it impossible to find all this information in one place, so I’ve gathered links to their reporting below. They did run a decent piece on the Democratic candidates for the 3 at-large spots on the Clark County Council, which emphasized the experience of the candidates.

All but two of the candidates have served on the Clark County Council previously and one of those candidates is a former Clarksville Town Council member. The field also includes two incumbents. [“Clark County Council hopefuls crowd field” — Braden Lammers, May 3, 2012]

The two who are not current or former Clark County Council members are Charles King and Brenda Ross.

I was impressed by the quotes from Susan Popp, who offered some of the few real proposals in her statements.

She added that she is not interested in micromanaging individual departments, but the county should look at the departments collectively to see if it could save money by centralizing purchasing, by making sure the county is not duplicating services and by offering more equitable spending between the individual offices. To further improve the financial condition of the county, Popp said she would consider fee increases to the services individual offices provide rather than increasing taxes.

She added that the council needs to be more accessible to the public and to other county entities, possibly having joint meetings with the commissioners instead of setting policy through individual meetings.

To be more accessible to the public, Popp said the council should meet in different areas of the county.

“We should meet up in Henryville, we should meet in New Washington, we should meet in these other places in order to be present, because we’re a county council, not a Jeff[ersonville] council,” she said. “I want to make this council much more accessible.”

Charles King also mentioned “better interaction between the council, the Clark County Commissioners and the other county offices. He said he would like to see those entities schedule meetings together and would like to see mandatory training sessions for officials entering into county government.”

Sadly, most of the other candidates stuck to generic platitudes and nonspecific “waste” they’d like to cut.

In the few months that I’ve lived in this part of Southern Indiana, what I’ve seen of the local political scene has not impressed me. Now I’ll admit, I’ve been unable to attend any of the local Democratic party meetings, mostly due to poor health. But my offers to volunteer for the local Democrats were shrugged off, and — even as a newly-registered voter — I haven’t received a single piece of political mail. So my impressions are definitely those of an outsider. But there seems to be so much basic disfunction — lack of communication between government units and petty score-settling — that I just don’t know where to start.

Downtown Jeffersonville is an amazing place, with so much potential — and so many empty storefronts. And I haven’t seen anything in the way of efforts to promote or help new businesses start up downtown. To the contrary, the local Chamber seems to be fully in favor of a plan that would make it harder to get to downtown. And while it’s great news that Amazon will be opening a distribution center here, it’s important to remember that these low-wage jobs are not going to be a substitute for real local businesses and the jobs they create.

There seems to be very little in the way of openness or transparency in local government, and the local government websites are in desperate need of a complete overhaul. Frankly, among the candidates running this cycle, I don’t see any who are contemplating the types of transformation that Clark County and Jeffersonville need to create a responsive, open, and inclusive government for the 21st century.

Here’s a round-up of the candidates’ brief Q&A sessions with the local paper, and links to their sites, if they have any. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any other good local sources of info — if there’s anything out there that’s not “Clark County Chatter”, please let me know.

Democratic Council Candidates