County council hopefuls found themselves weighing in on issues the fiscal body currently can’t vote on during a candidates forum Thursday at Crawfordsville High School.
Planning and zoning and wind farms dominated audience questions at the event, co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County. Both topics are still up for discussion on the board of commissioners, which must act before sending them on to the council.
That didn’t keep the candidates, all Republicans, from weighing in.
“We have a big problem right now in this county and it’s time for everyone to plug in and do their due diligence… and pick a side and fight for it,” District 4 councilman Mark Davidson, who is seeking re-election, said about wind farms.
Davidson called the wind energy ordinance being amended by the commissioners “atrocious,” saying wind turbines cause health hazards, are expensive to decommission and will become obsolete within a decade.
“I will fight to the end to keep them from coming in to our county,” he added.
Wind farm supporters dispute the health concerns, with conflicting studies weighing in on the effects.
“It’s hard to say what you’re reading is factual,” said Davidson’s opponent, Todd Douglas.
If elected, Douglas said he would continue researching the issue until it comes up for a vote.
District 1 candidate John Hedrick II and District 2 incumbent Don Mills also spoke out against funding the farms.
Hedrick’s opponent, Tom Mellish, and Mills’s challenger, Debbie Schavietello, are taking a wait-and-see approach.
“I want to make sure I completely understand what this issue means for the community,” Schavietello said.
A comprehensive plan is the focus of a county-wide task force being funded by the state and Indiana West Advantage. Candidates offered support for planning, but some said the question of zoning should be put to a ballot referendum.
Mills supports leaving land management to the townships.
“I would to see [township trustees and advisory boards] decide, on their local level, what they would like – not necessarily what the city would like for them, but what they would like for themselves,” Mills said.
Candidates also addressed the opioid crisis and public safety, which takes up most of the county’s budget. Hedrick said the county should continue providing resources to the sheriff’s office and courts to crack down on crime.
“And also, I feel it’s a community event. We’re all going to have to work together to kick this problem,” he said.
The forum came as candidates prepare to ramp up their campaigns for the May 8 primary election.
It was also sponsored by the Crawfordsville-Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Federation of Business and Professional Women.
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