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PERRY COUNTY - Five contenders have tossed their hats into the ring, seeking election or re-election to the county council.
Incumbents Merle Doogs, Steve Goodson and Bob Ramsbottom hope to retain their seats. Ronald K. Crawford Sr. and Terry Lock filed candidacies Wednesday, each seeking an at-large position.
Ron Crawford Sr.
Except for a three-year absence, Crawford, 1300 33rd St., Tell City, has lived in Perry County his entire life, and "I think I'm at an age and have the time where I should serve my county," he said after witnessing a council meeting Thursday.
Referring to the years he spent at the helm of Crawford Family Memorials, from which he's now retired, he said, "I have a business background. I would watch the county's funds like they were my own. I know budgets are tight, so it will be a challenge."
The community "has been very supportive of me," he added.
This is his first attempt at election to public office, the Democrat said, but he vowed, "I will serve the county to the best of my ability." He also said he plans to attend every county-council meeting in advance of the election so if he wins a seat, he'll know about issues facing the county's fiscal body.
"Perry County is a great place," Goodson replied when asked why he's seeking re-election. The 1041 21st St., Tell City, resident said he, too, has lived here his entire life, and service on the council "is a way to give back to Perry County."
Goodson noted county officials face challenges now and in the future. "It will be tough, but I feel we can meet them," he said.
Beginning his council service with a successful bid for the District 2 seat as a Republican in 1990, he's now seeking an at-large position as a Democrat.
"With my experience, I try to come in with the right frame of mind," he said.
He feels the council has boosted the county's economy in recent years. Noting "it's been a team effort," he said, "I think creating as many jobs as we have the past several years has been a tremendous help to Perry County."
Doogs is running for "the same reason I ran the first time," he said, "to get the most mileage out of the tax dollar we can."
Service on the council, which for this Democrat began in 1996, gives the retiree something meaningful to do, he said. The resident of 601 14th St., Tell City, completed a 29-year banking career with a retirement from First State Bank the same year. He, too, said team efforts help the council boost the county's prosperity.
"I as an individual don't know that I've had that much influence, " he said, "but I've always watched how I voted. As a group, we've helped industry come in. Since I've been on the council, we've got several, like ATTC and Waupaca."
A county commissioner from 1999 to 2006, Lock, 8758 Indiana 166, Tobinsport, "really enjoyed working for the county," he said Friday. Also a Democrat seeking an at-large seat, he views service on the council as an opportunity to put his years of county-budget experience to good use.
"I think I can be quite an asset, especially with everything coming down from the state on capping property taxes," he said.
He pointed to advances achieved while he was a commissioner, such as completion of a new county garage "that came in under budget by a couple hundred thousand dollars." Also, "we paved more roads in the county than were paved in forever," he added. He stressed he didn't act alone, that "there were two other commissioners."
He's also proud of the county's highway department, which he called "one of the most professionally run organizations in the county in terms of bang for the buck."
A retired teacher and longtime advocate of recreational facilities and activities, Ramsbottom, 15510 North Indiana 66, Magnet, is a Republican hoping to retain his at-large position. He said Friday his one term so far, and help from former County Auditor Debbie Elder, have given him experience that will make him a better councilman. "I feel I can contribute to the county," he said.
Meeting budgets affected by property-tax changes at the state level will be a challenge for councils statewide, he said. Even in the face of that "the biggest thing now is to try to do things to increase growth," he feels. "We need to do things that will attract more people to move into our county."
Ramsbottom said he's most proud of efforts finally paying off to establish a park overlooking the Cannelton Locks and Dam and to spur development in the St. Croix area.
Profiles of candidates for the District 1 and District 3 seats on the board of county commissioners will be in Thursday's edition.
As of Friday, Democrat incumbents Don Sherry in District 1 and Jody Fortwendel in District 3 have filed for re-election.