The League of Women Voters hosted a candidates forum Thursday for districts three and four of the Monroe County Council. Candidates took questions from both the audience and a three-person panel. But both races centered on two hot issues: slashes in funding for ambulances and take-home cars. All of the candidates agreed that a 100-thousand dollar cut in funding for ambulance services at Bloomington Hospital was the biggest problem with the newest county budget. However… they were split on party lines about the value of county officials having take-home cars as a part of their job package.
Marty Hawk, the incumbent Republican candidate for district three, says the feeling of safety she gets any time she sees a police car in her community is enough to convince her to keep the cars.
“It really makes a difference in our neighborhoods and out in our communities,” Hawk said. “When people see those law enforcement cars, it’s just common nature that you’re gonna slow down, watch your speed and I know that I feel more comfortable when I see law enforcement out there on the road.”
But her opponent, Larry Barker, thinks only first responders should be the ones taking their work cars home with them. “Unless you are a first responder you shouldn’t have a take-home vehicle and the savings where we’re cutting essential governmental positions or essential governmental services,” Barker said. “And we may be able to put money back into the M1 service or some of those other services that are critical to the public.”
Their counterparts in the district four race had similar opinions. Republican Jeff Schemmer says take-home car may be a part of an employee’s benefits package and wants to ensure that everyone is treated fairly. Democratic candidate Sam Allison noted that money saved through cutting some of the vehicles could be used to cover other budget items like ambulance services.