A debate Monday featured Republican candidates vying for election to office in Ripley County.
The Ripley County Women’s Club held the candidate debate at the Osgood Town Hall as County Council member Brenda Wetzler was the moderator of the event and asked candidates questions on pertinent county and state issues.
Bill McDonald and Chip Perfect are seeking election to the District 43 state senator seat. Topics addressed included the distribution of local income tax, the continuation of riverboat revenue sharing funds, the payment of probation officer salaries and Common Core in Indiana schools.
Ron Decker replaced the vacant county council seat previously held by Dee Dee Kaiser in January. He is seeking reelection and was asked Monday about the $2 million rainy day fund and county budgets.
Four republicans are vying for the District 1 County Commissioner position. They debated issues regarding payment of county employee overtime hours, additional tax for county road repairs, the financial condition of county EMS units, and employee use of county owned vehicles while off duty.
The four candidates: Bill Flannery, Stan Wiedeman, Jay Gayheart and Robert Linville, each support county law enforcement driving service vehicles while off the clock.
Ripley County Sheriff Tom Grills has reached his term-limit as a new head of the Ripley County Sheriff’s Office will be elected this year. On Monday, republicans Rob Bradley, Joe Mann and Jeff Cumberworth debated issues pertaining to local law enforcement.
Wetzler asked each candidate about deputy work schedules, possible reinstatement of home incarceration, cost effective ways to punish criminals and the ongoing heroin problem in the county.
Each candidate felt a home incarceration program could generate revenue for the county. With a spark of heroin use in recent years, Rob Bradley suggested undercover work and apprehension as keys to reversing the epidemic. Cumberworth said more education could lead to the decline of heroin use and Mann said a K-9 is an essential tool for law enforcement.
Tim Sutton and Josh Thompson have filed their candidacy for sheriff on the Democratic ticket for the May Primary.
Other candidates running unopposed spoke at the debate including William Wagner, auditor; Ryan King, circuit court judge; Richard Hertel, prosecuting attorney; Jeff Sharp, superior court judge; and Shawna Bushhorn, assessor.
State Representative Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) was in attendance at the debate and shared his advice to candidates.
“If you plan on winning you will have to work really hard. I would also caution anyone who is running, that once the primary is over, get behind those that won,” Frye said. “As I said earlier tonight, it is sort of like a family fight. Once the primary is over let’s put the family back together and get onto November.”