Q&A attached as breakout under related content
Five candidates are running for two Columbus City Council at-large seats. Four are Republicans: Incumbent Kenny Whipker and challengers Laurie Booher, Charles Doup and Debbie Kramer. Newcomer Tom Dell will be unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Q: Is there a value in the city providing tax abatements to businesses? What approach should the city have on tax abatements?
A: Always consider that abatements may cause a budget shortfall. Each request is weighed upon individual merits, not indiscriminately. Considerations: Number of jobs created, average wage, capital investment of the business, impact on Columbus economy, and cost of losing the business to another state or community before a decision is made.
Q: What three improvements to city government would you like to see and why?
Economical development with a pro-business stance is “job one.” Increase/stabilize the tax base. Concentrate on public infrastructure.
Q: What should the working relationship be between the city council and the mayor?
A: Ensuring that decisions are made using rational thoughts, a methodical and timely decision-making process rather than making decisions and comments upon emotions. Unity or decisions do not come without some conflict. But engaging in civil dialogue (social media, print or in person) about important issues is the overriding factor.
Q: Should city government provide money for the arts and nonprofit organizations? Explain why or why not.
A: Providing funds to nonprofits should be weighed in a similar manner as tax abatements. Will it provide jobs, reduce cost associated with “entitlement programs” and most importantly have an impact on the Columbus economy long term?
Q: Columbus is faced with the need for an overpass at State Roads 46 and 11 to alleviate an expected increase in railroad traffic and a growing number of commuters along the city’s west side downtown entrance. An overpass could cost about $35 million. What is your solution for funding it?
A: This is not solely a Columbus issue. This is a federal, state, county and local issue. Rail traffic affects cities and towns from New Albany to Indianapolis. The feasible solution is working in collaboration with all affected to solve this issue long term and pool resources for the benefit of all.
Name: Kenneth J. “Kenny” Whipker
Address: 911 Franklin St.
Occupation: Executive director, sheriff and county jail operations, Indiana Department of Correction
Education: Oakland City University, master’s degree in management; Indiana Wesleyan, bachelor’s degree in management; Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy.
Previous elected offices held (and when): City Council, at large, current; sheriff of Bartholomew County, 1999-2006.
Previous elected offices sought (and when): None
Community involvement: Asbury United Methodist Church; supporter of local arts by attending events and sponsoring their efforts; involved in local neighborhood alliance.
Immediate family: Wife, Susan; daughter, Abby; son, Andy; daughter-in-law, Dana.