Tipton — It’s been referred to as a referendum vote — a chance to gauge where the community stands on the wind energy issue that has been the subject of much debate in Tipton County.
The issue has drawn the ire of residents in the county on both sides: Those who are for wind development and the money it brings to the county and those who are hoping to stop it from expanding, citing the health and safety concerns of residents who live near the turbines.
There are no proposals on Tuesday’s primary ballot regarding wind, but candidates in a number of crucial county races have identified wind energy development as the hottest issue facing the county.
Perhaps the most high profile of those races is the county Board of Commissioners seat currently held by Phil Heron, who faces challenger Gerald Shuck. Two Tipton County Council seats also will be contested, with anti-wind challengers Eric Parent and Jim Leffler running for those spots. Parent will take on incumbent Dennis Henderson, while Leffler will challenge Mike Orr, the interim trustee for Prairie Township, for the open seat.
Shuck has singled out wind development as the biggest issue facing the county because it has become such a polarizing topic. He is one of several candidates supported by the Citizens for Responsible Government group, which holds an anti-wind stance, despite Shuck’s willingness to listen to both sides of the wind argument.
“The reason I believe it will be a referendum vote is because so many people have been fighting on this issue for so long debating the pros and cons,” Shuck said. “Most people running for office are either pro- or anti-wind, and the people in the county know that.”
Despite working for months to amend the county’s wind ordinance to provide better sound protection and setbacks for wind turbines, Heron said the focus of the primary will remain on wind development.