A seat on the Jackson County Council is up for grabs.
Democrats Lenvel “Butch” Robinson of Crothersville and Barry Stuckwisch of Seymour and Republicans Mark Hackman and Mark Pardieck, both of Seymour, are on the primary election ballot.
The top vote-getter from each party announced the night of May 8 will move on to the Nov. 6 general election to determine who wins the District 2 seat.
Republican Leon Pottschmidt of Seymour is in the final year of his second four-year term serving the district that includes all or portions of Driftwood, Grassy Fork, Jackson (3 South and 4 South), Vernon and Washington townships. He chose not to seek re-election to a third term.
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The county council has the ultimate decision-making power regarding fiscal affairs. It has the authority to view or review fiscal matters, determine proper policy and set priorities for the allocation and expenditure of county funds.
Robinson has served on the Crothersville Town Council since 2012, including two years as president. He is a retired union carpenter with 25 years of experience as a job superintendent.
He said he has attended a couple of county council meetings to get a better understanding of how it works.
“I have served six years on the Crothersville Town Council basically doing the same thing, and my work in construction was project superintendent, and I was in charge of managing and making sure that we stayed within budget,” Robinson said. “It was my job to make sure that the money stays within the budget of the cost of the building in order to get the building done on time also.”
Stuckwisch is a Seymour Community Schools bus driver and works for Premier Ag. He has been involved with the Jackson County 4-H Council, livestock and auction committees and the Jackson County Fair board and also served as superintendent of the dairy and dairy beef programs.
Stuckwisch also is a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church, where he has served on various committees and boards, and is president of the Jackson-Washington Volunteer Fire Department and previously was a committee member.
Pardieck is a mechanical contractor and has owned Pardieck’s Inc. for 28 years. In the past 30 years, he said he has served on multiple boards, including the Immanuel Lutheran School board, Immanuel Lutheran Church property board, past president of Lake & Forest Club and current chairman of Lake & Forest Club sewer committee.
Hackman has worked at Hackman Brothers Feed Service near Tampico for 22 years and now is the owner. He said he has been a farmer and in the feed business for most of his life, and he has been on the St. John’s Lutheran Sauers church and school councils.
“I know a few of these guys that are on the council. I’ve already talked to them about it, and I get along with these guys good,” Hackman said. “With a little common sense, I think I could fit right in there and help those guys on the council.”
As far as the top issue facing the county, Stuckwisch, Robinson and Pardieck all said updating infrastructure and repairing roads and bridges are priorities.
“With my knowledge and background in construction and sewer maintenance, I’ll be able to make informed decisions in the best interests of our residents,” Pardieck said.
Robinson said it’s important to focus on the most critical roads and bridges and fix them first.
“You’ve got to do the worst things first and work your way down the list. You can’t jump in and do everything,” Robinson said, noting the latter may result in raising taxes. “And nobody wants their taxes raised even though they want a better road.”
To keep the budget balanced and not have to dip into savings, Pardieck said the council should take an in-depth look at where monies are currently being allocated and identifying the areas where there is the highest need.
“Once the needs are prioritized, we need to be creative and resourceful with our budget as to not overspend or eat up the entire allotment,” Pardieck said.
All four candidates agree jail overcrowding is another issue.
The jail in Brownstown is trying to ease that problem by converting the juvenile detention center into a wing for female inmates.
Robinson said he supports that decision but isn’t sure it will stop overcrowding. He said a work release program may be the solution.
Jackson Superior Court I in Seymour will be moving to the Jackson County Judicial Center in Brownstown once that new building is finished, and Stuckwisch said that would be a great place for community corrections and a work release program.
“Inmates would pay to stay here and only be released to go to work,” Stuckwisch said.
Many of the county’s arrests are drug-related, and Hackman said it’s important to have a program to help these people learn skills to be able to turn their life around. Then they will be able to function in society once they are out of jail.
“(Drugs) are destroying families,” Hackman said. “We need to get some of these people fixed up and get them in a program.”
Pardieck said the council will have to continue to research all of the options and keep working toward the best solution to ease overcrowding.
If elected, all four men said they would ensure the council is open and honest with the public.
“I feel like any citizen should be able to find out anything that is said in a public meeting,” Robinson said. “I feel like government should be very open and invite everybody to come to a meeting. Come and listen for yourself. It’s as open as we can get. I don’t see how you could do anymore.”
Stuckwisch said the county has done a great job informing the public about what is going on.
“As a citizen, you are able to go online and read the minutes of county government meetings,” he said. “When asked upon, I will address the county’s issues to the best of my ability.”
Pardieck said honesty and transparency need to be at the forefront of meetings and decisions.
“We are elected by our fellow citizens, and it is our job to be the best stewards of their money,” he said.
Hackman said open government is important so everyone can effectively communicate.
“We need to be the most transparent we can,” he said. “It’s people’s money we’re spending here, so everybody needs to know what’s going on. If they ask, they need to be told this is how it is.”
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Hackman file” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Name: Mark Hackman
Occupation: Owner of Hackman Brothers Feed Service
[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Robinson file” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Name: Lenvel “Butch” Robinson
Occupation: Retired union carpenter; job superintendent for Force Construction for 25 years
[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Pardieck file” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Name: Mark D. Pardieck
Occupation: Mechanical contractor
[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Stuckwisch file” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Name: Barry Stuckwisch
Occupations: Seymour Community Schools bus driver and Premier Ag