Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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April 26, 2012

Unity among candidates at GOP debate

At-large council, commissioner seats up.

If there’s anything which needs to change in Howard County government, the candidates at the county council and commissioners debates Wednesday weren’t saying it.

With the county jail paid off and the county’s 1.4 percent income tax rate bringing in plenty of revenue, the seven candidates sharing the stage at Maple Crest Middle School united in praise of the county.

Even where the county government has no role — as in the city’s street and sewer improvements in Indian Heights — the five Republican candidates for Howard County Council at-large seats suggested things are fine.

“Something should have been worked out between the commissioners and the council, but it’s being handled,” at-large candidate Jim Papacek said of what Kokomo Perspective publisher Don Wilson called “the debacle at Indian Heights.”

“I’m not going to say there was nothing wrong, but it’s being done. We’re moving on,” at-large candidate Clee Oliver said.

Ted Cain, the county highway engineer who used construction barrels as permanent traffic controls at the Heights entrance, drew effusive praise from the council candidates.

“He did what he thought was right there for the safety of the people who live there,” candidate Art Fross said, before suggesting Cain was “behind” the city’s reconstruction of the Arrowhead Boulevard/Center Road intersection.

Oliver, Papacek, Fross, Jay Martin and incumbent at-large members Jeff Stout and Stan Ortman are all seeking one of the three Republican spots on the November ballot. Paul Munoz is the only announced candidate on the Democrat side.

Martin was absent Wednesday, while all the other candidates were present at the GOP debate.

In the other debate, former commissioner Brad Bagwell and former Howard County Coroner Brad Bray tilted for the Republican nomination in the Commissioner District 1 race. Incumbent Democrat Bill Thompson has said he won’t seek re-election.

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