News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Election 2012

May 3, 2012

Vigo County Council At-Large - Democrat

TERRE HAUTE — There’s no apathy when it comes to Democrats hoping to be their party’s nominees for at-large seats on the Vigo County Council. The May 8 Primary Election will see eight candidates vying to be one of three top vote-getters who will face Republican opponents in the fall General Election.

Adam S. Azar, 32, will make his political debut, hoping to fill a council seat. Currently an eighth grade social studies teacher at West Vigo Middle School, he also serves as that school’s athletic director and coach of its track-and-field team. Serving the community in which he was raised is high on his Azar’s list of priorities, and he said having experience in the field of education gives him valuable perspective.

“I wanted to run a while back,” he said. “It’s been a toss-up of when, not if, with me.”

As a teacher and administrator, Azar said he’s very familiar with budgets as well as the revenue cuts facing tax-supported entities in recent years.

“Being a teacher, we’re working on a 2008 pay scale,” he said, emphasizing his goal to avoid further cuts by using proactive and creative thinking. Eliminating jobs is truly a last resort, he said, expressing his hope to help make Vigo County a place families continue to enjoy.

Incumbent councilman Mark D. Bird, 58, will seek his third term on the council. As Vigo County’s supervisor of the Department of Weights and Measures, Bird falls under a new state law which prohibits government employees from serving as elected officials. If he ultimately wins re-election, Bird would be limited to serving out that term, unless he leaves employment of the county.

The husband and father of two said he enjoys working with the county department heads and commissioners, and hopes to continue a protective role regarding the taxpayers’ money.

“I enjoy doing the job and I want to be on there four more years to see the 641 bypass completed,” he said, adding the current council has done quite well weathering the storm of revenue cuts faced in recent years.

Longtime educator SaRetta J. Brown, 69, said she hopes to contribute her voice to the council in terms of improving the community. Retired after 46 years teaching in the Vigo County School Corp., Brown said she offers a depth of experience.

“I just really want to give back to the community, and be involved in the county government,” she said. “I want to help make decisions on what’s being done, and understand why they’re being done that way. I want to do everything I can to improve our living conditions.”

Incumbent William C. Bryan, 70, is seeking his second term on council, having served eight years total as a Vigo County commissioner earlier in his career. The experience of switching from commissioner to councilman has offered a unique perspective, he said, explaining that the former requests money as the county’s executive, while the latter manages the budgets as the fiscal agent. Budget cuts stemming from property tax caps have been felt throughout county departments, and Bryan said he remembers what it’s like asking for needed projects.

“I enjoy working for the county government, especially on the county council, working with the different department heads,” the semi-retired sales consultant said. “We’ve had a rough three years on our budget restraints, and still we’ve done quite a bit in those last three years. I enjoy it and I hope I get another four years on the council.”

Richard Burger, 55, believes in the power of this community’s energy, and said he wants to be a part of the progress.

“I believe in this community. I believe in the community spirit I see and I want to take it to the next level and make a difference. I believe I can and I will,” the 35-year Duke Energy employee said. “I want the opportunity to earn the job from the community.”

Serving as district manager for Terre Haute, Clinton, Brazil and Greencastle, Burger has been heavily involved in numerous community activities throughout the Wabash Valley, including work with economic development officials. If elected to the council, he said he’ll be a very active member, as he’s a true believer with experience in the community.

Curtis A. DeBaun IV, 30, said he wants to take his turn contributing to the community in which he’s been raised. Working in his family’s business, DeBaun Funeral Homes, his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Indiana State University are in history and he remarked he’s recently obtained a license to teach elementary school and is pursuing that as a future career path.

“I think you need good people to step up and serve their community,” he said. “I’ve lived in Vigo County all my life and I’d like that chance.”

Ann Marie O’Brien, 62, said she’ll bring experience from her career as a county employee to the council table.

“I’ve been approached by several people about this option,” the inspector for the Vigo County Air Pollution Control department said of her decision to run, adding, “I do not want to be a career politician.”

“I’m an honest, hardworking team player and I’ve been a public servant for the county for 25 years. I believe strongly in fiscal responsibility, and after 25 years I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly in county government,” she said. “I think I’ll bring fresh ideas and positive solutions, and improve communication efforts in the county government.”

Incumbent Ed Ping, 61, said he’s running for his second term on the council to help maintain spending levels while providing necessary services.

“The council has done a lot of good and I think I’ve made a lot of contributions toward helping it do well,” he said, noting he’s semi-retired and dedicates considerable time to the position. A 1968 graduate of Rosedale High School, he said he’s had extensive training in labor education, and brings strong experience to the group.

“I want to make sure we have adequate spending for the things that we need and make sure we don’t spend money where we don’t have to,” he said, citing maintenance of county roads and provision for county employees as priorities achieved during tight fiscal times. Neighboring counties are in much rougher shape financially, and he said it’s important to keep Vigo County safe amid cuts. “And it looks like we’ll be able to do the same again.”

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.

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