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Council candidates open to increasing collaboration with city

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Chris Ogle
Chris Ogle

Marcus Speer
Marcus Speer

The two candidates seeking the Republican nomination for Bartholomew County Council District 1 would like to see more collaboration between county and city governments.

Incumbent County Councilman Chris Ogle is facing a challenge in the May 6 Republican primary from Marcus Speer, secretary for the Rockcreek Township Board.

The winner will advance to the November general election to represent eastern Bartholomew County on the county’s seven-member body, which considers fiscal matters and is responsible for making budget decisions.

Speer said collaboration already exists between Bartholomew County and city of Columbus, which partner with a combined planning department.

“County officials should always be willing to hold talks about possible partnerships when the collaboration increases efficiencies, benefits more residents and is agreeable for all parties,” Speer said. “I am sure this will be an ongoing effort for the County Council.”

Ogle, running for a second term, said he would like to see the city and county work together to have a combined garage and maintenance facility.

The County Council also needs to deal with pressing matters including funding for a new or renovated County Annex, Ogle said.

Speer agreed that the County Annex’s future will be an important issue for the council to tackle.

The 86-year-old building, a former school near State and Mapleton streets, has numerous structural problems.

The annex houses the health department’s nursing division and the Purdue Extension office. It was home to the county’s Women, Infants and Children program, which relocated earlier this month because of the annex’s poor condition.

Speer said the County Council should evaluate all departments during annual budget hearings. He said the county shouldn’t single out one department over another.

“When deciding funding requests, the council must always seek to keep a balanced budget without increasing taxes,” Speer said. “The County Council should seek to be a ‘cheerleader’ for all county employees.”

Ogle said he would like to see more of the Visitor Information Promotion Commission funds distributed to other places besides the Columbus Area Visitors Center.

Four members of the County Council represent geographical parts of Bartholomew County, while three serve as at-large members.

District 1 includes residents in Hawcreek Township, Clay Township, Clifty Township, Rockcreek Township, northeastern Columbus and northeastern Bartholomew County.

Q&A: Where they stand ... County Council District 1

Chris Ogle

Age: 51

Political party: Republican

Office sought: County Council District 1

Occupation: Owner and manager of Living Waters Irrigation and seasonal employee at Liberty Tax Service

Education: 1981 Columbus East High School graduate; served six years in the U.S. Navy

Prior elected office held: Solid Waste District board member.

Family: Two grown children — son, Joshua; daughter, Hannah; granddaughter, Nevaeh

Why are you running for county councilman?

I am running because I believe that I still have valuable insights to help keep Bartholomew County on the great path it is on now.

What is the role of a county councilman in promoting economic development?

We have a member from the county council on the economic board to be a part of the decisions concerning our community. I believe it is a step in the right direction. We also put money aside to help promote the county in bringing in future investors.

What issues will you focus on as a county councilman?

I will be focusing on complying with the new Affordable Care Act and trying to reduce our costs.

Marcus Speer

Age: 40

Political party: Republican

Office sought: County Council District 1

Occupation: Minister, farmer, school bus driver

Education: 1992 Columbus East High School graduate; 1997 Cincinnati Christian University graduate, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Prior elected offices held, and when: Rockcreek Township Board secretary; first elected in 1998, with fourth term ending this year.

Prior elected offices sought: District 3 County Commissioner in 2012.

Community involvement: President of Bartholomew County Genealogical Society; adult leader of South Rockcreek Farmers 4-H Club, 1994 to present; South Central Indiana Christian Men’s Fellowship, past secretary; BCSC Bus Drivers Association, past officer; Bartholomew County 4-H Council, 1997-10, president and treasurer; Bartholomew County 4-H Fair Board, 2008-10.

Family: Wife, Jennifer; daughter, Madelyn; parents, Ron and Nancy Speer.

Why are you running for county councilman?

I have always enjoyed serving others through my work and my volunteer positions. Over the last 16 years, I have enjoyed serving Rockcreek Township as an elected member of the township board. I believe that I can increase my service to others as a member of the Bartholomew County Council.

What is the role of a county councilman in promoting economic development?

County Council can have an active role in promoting economic development. There are other times when council should step aside and keep restrictions to a minimum so economic development can occur. Whenever a councilman recognizes an opportunity to encourage economic development, he should pursue it in conjunction with other council members.

What issues will you focus on as a county councilman?

Since County Council is defined as the county’s fiscal body, each council member is responsible for setting priorities for the expenditure of funds. I hope to continue a balanced budget that efficiently serves county residents.

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