Key endorsements in this year’s crowded Hamilton County primaries could boil chronic tension between the Board of Commissioners and County Council.
Nine candidates are competing for the three Hamilton County Council seats in this year’s June 2nd primary. The eight Republicans and one Democrat have made different guesses as to why there are almost twice as many competitors this year as there were in the 2016 race, but almost all of them have a gap between those who want to spend more and those who want to save more than cited a contributing factor.
“Some of the other elected officials in the county want certain projects to happen,” Councilor Brad Beaver said. “But one of the tasks of the district council is to be a check-and-balance for the district representatives, to keep an eye on the projects and to determine at our discretion how much they should spend.”
Acting councilors Beaver and Rick McKinney are both fiscal conservatives and are seeking re-election. You spent 24 and 26 years on the council, respectively. Both say Hamilton County commissioners are backing Newcomer Council candidates in retaliation for earlier Conservative votes on commissioner-proposed projects.
Although IBJ councilors and commissioners said the majority of projects went unimpeded, members of both levels of government cited several separate voices as examples of the gap.
The most important of these controversial projects was a 2015 proposal for a new public safety training facility in Noblesville.
Councilors McKinney, Beaver, Fred Glynn, and Paul Ayers voted against spending $ 3 million on the estimated $ 42 million facility because they felt the county’s cities and towns had inadequate contributions. The four votes represented a majority in the seven-member council.
“I have no problem working together or working together, but one thing I don’t do is surrender under pressure,” McKinney said. “Nobody cares as much about the taxpayer as I do when it comes to questioning Commissioners’ spending and I think that will be even more necessary in the future.”
McKinney said it would be “insincere” to ignore the increased taxpayer burden when a new council takes a less conservative approach to capital projects, especially as the county could face years of tax revenue from the pandemic.
The three-person board consists of Christine Altman, Steve Dillinger, Mark Heirbrandt and all Republicans. Heirbrandt and Dillinger’s seats are up for re-election, but only Dillinger is against. He faces Charlie McMillan Jr., a Republican from Noblesville.
Although all three commissioners have shown some form of support for council candidate Steven Nation, they rejected the idea of setting up a “stamp” council to push projects through without resistance.
Commissioner Steve Dillinger said he trained football for several years with Nation, a former Hamilton County attorney and Supreme Court Justice. Dillinger said his reelection committee’s $ 5,000 contribution to the Nation’s campaign was an attempt to build a team.
Dillinger said he was supporting a candidate willing to rate projects on their own merits.
“I believe in a team concept,” said Dillinger. “That doesn’t mean that everyone on this team is okay with everything. I’m just asking for cooperation to get the things we need to get done. “
Altman, the commissioner’s representative and president of District 1, agreed.
She said she wasn’t backing Nation in exchange for a mild review of future projects, but she hopes he will adopt a more collaborative approach so projects can be reviewed more quickly.
“I don’t want to waste time playing politics to get a project through,” said Altman. “We don’t develop projects for personal gain. We believe that the projects we come up with are necessary now, and especially for the district 10, 20, 30 years later. “
Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt has also endorsed Nation but rejects Beaver and McKinney’s claims that this creates an expectation of reciprocity.
“It’s disappointing to me that they want to play these games when we’re all supposed to get together at a time like this when the community needs us,” said Heirbrandt.
Regarding his own assurances, Nation said he had already voted against the commissioners’ wishes in a conviction case that had previously exceeded his file. To further demonstrate its point, Nation compared the relationship between commissioners and councilors to that between a teammate and his coach.
“When I was playing soccer a million years ago, the coach called the games. It wasn’t my responsibility to call the games but I thought it was my responsibility to tell the quarterback and coach what I saw on the line, “Nation said.
“I’m not criticizing the people on the council, but in the past there seems to have been this real battle between the two. There are many things that people cannot agree on, but I want to keep the dialogue going, ”said Nation. “I think I’m an old team player.”
Hamilton County residents can vote through early Friday by visiting one of eight satellite polling stations. You also have another chance to vote early by visiting the Noblesville Justice Center the day before the June 2 primaries.
Here are the hotly contested candidates for this year’s Commissioners and Council races:
County Commissioner District 2 (one seat to choose from)
- Steve Dillinger, 73, R-Noblesville
- Charlie McMillan Jr., 57, R-Noblesville
District Council (three seats to choose from)
- Rick McKinney, 62, R-Westfield
- Brad Beaver, 61, R-Noblesville
- Sue Maki, 58, R-Carmel
- Jeff Hern, 50, R-Fishers
- Steven Nation, 70, R-Noblesville
- Lyneen Burrow, 62, R-Cicero
- John Ditslear, 77, R-Noblesville
- Tony Scott, 59, R-Fishers
- Gardiner Bink III, 29, D-Westfield
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Steve Dillinger was the only Hamilton County commissioner to stand for re-election. We apologize for this mistake.