Of the nine citizens currently serving on New Albany’s city council, all but two are standing for re-election.
Bev Crump (D-5th) and Larry Kochert (D-4th) are not seeking another term in office, although persistent rumors have “Slippery” Larry conniving at various independent, whacked-out, know-nothing or flat-earth candidacies if his handpicked successor, Roger Hefler, fails to dislodge presumptive favorite Pat McLaughlin.
Of the remaining seven council representatives, only one is unopposed in his party’s primary: Jeff Gahan (D-6th).
Three-quarters of the council’s Gang of Four obstructionists, including Dan Coffey, Bill Schmidt and Steve Price (all Democrats; 1st, 2nd and 3rd districts, respectively) face credible primary challenges.
This leaves the three at-large councilmen, who are the Democrats Jack Messer and Donnie Blevins, and the Republican Kevin Zurschmiede, the latter appointed to his seat after Mark Seabrook won a county commissioner slot in the 2006 election. Both parties are fielding multiple candidates on the spring primary at-large ballot.
You are being directed to these facts because previously we pointed readers to the Tribune candidate questionnaires, which appeared at the newspaper’s web site last week.
Apart from the mayor’s race, the Tribune’s policy is to not publish answers from unopposed candidates, which explains why platform planks from councilman Gahan, city clerk Marcey Wisman (D), 4th district candidate David Aebersold (R) and 5th district candidate Diane McCartin Benedetti (D) did not appear when the newspaper’s questionnaire results were published.
Accordingly, here is the complete list of candidates who also were absent, in this case by reason of not submitting the Tribune’s questionnaire by the mandated deadline:
6th: Sam Anderson (R)
At-large, Republican: Steve Burks, Tonye Rutherford
At-large, Democrat: Donnie Blevins, James Hollis, Jack Messer
City clerk: Ronny K. Hornung (R)
As a disclaimer, there might be many reasons for the omissions, and not all of them insidious or conspiratorial, ranging from simple forgetfulness to bad contact information, but ending at what we fervently hope isn’t the case: That the candidates in question are unwilling to go on the record, even with basic and forgettable electoral clichés of the sort dispensed by several of those who joined in the fun.
Time and again we have urged voters to give consideration to substantive issues somewhat beyond whether one’s aunt went to grade school with the wife of the candidate down the street. Whatever your take on the Tribune as a newspaper, it must be conceded that beyond a sprinkling of candidate blogs and a website or two, and with most non-mayoral candidates lacking printed campaign materials other than the unsightly litter known as yard signs, the Tribune’s questionnaires constitute the only real hope of gleaning a council candidate’s positions in the form of a lasting public record prior to the election.
It is especially disappointing that two sitting council members did not take part in the Tribune’s informational and educational exercise, but perhaps they merely missed the deadline, and if so, NAC is happy to offer blog space to Donnie Blevins, Jack Messer and the other candidates listed above to place their questionnaire answers on the public record, right here, prior to May 8.
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