Floyd County Republican Chairperson Dave Matthews responded via email to an earlier NAC request for platform information. Other than some extra paragraph breaks to ease blog reading, his response is presented verbatim.
Thanks for your email requesting platform issues. I have taken so long to respond to you because I wanted you to have considered and well-thought out answers, not just ones that could be answered in a few minutes.
Obviously, it is very difficult to answer your questions about platform issues from all of the candidates' perspectives. Even within our own Republican Party, we have some strong differences in what our actual platform should be.
I attended the Indiana State Republican Platform Committee meeting last weekend when the committee was here at the IUS campus. I was extremely pleased to hear so many Republicans eloquently express their ideas about what the State platform should be. The committee members stated that our party is the only one that actually takes public input to the platform in open sessions.
I just hope that our State Platform Committee takes some of the well expressed ideas and actually incorporates them into the platform. However, if the State follows the lead of the national party, I fear that many of the principles that helped us identify more with the ideals of average Americans and win lots of elections in 2000 will continue to be eroded and cause us to lose elections like we saw in 2004. We'll see.
Much of how I feel I must relate to your questions about issues and Republican Party platforms can be reflected in a brochure produced many years ago by the national party titled, "I Am a Republican because...."
Let me state a few of those principles. Republicans believe that the proper function of government is to do for the people those things that have to be done but cannot be done, or cannot be done as well, by individuals, and that the most effective government is government closest to the people. We typically believe that free enterprise and the encouragement of individual initiative and incentive have given this nation an economic system second to none. We believe that sound money management should be our goal.
Republicans believe in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all. We believe that Americans value and should preserve their feeling of national strength and pride, and at the same time share with people everywhere a desire for peace and freedom and the extension of human rights throughout the world.
Republicans believe that we must retain the principles of the past worth retaining, yet always be receptive to new ideas with an outlook broad enough to accommodate thoughtful change and varying points of view......however, I believe we also believe in some fundamental, conservative values that because of religious and ethical beliefs are frankly, not open for compromise. I'm sure you know quite well what some of those issues are.
Now, after such a broad brush of values from a more general perspective, let me try to apply some of those principles to the specific problems and situations in New Albany and Floyd County that you asked about.
Code enforcement, and all law enforcement for that matter, is definitely one of those areas where government must do for people those things that cannot be done by individuals. I would specifically point to the application in Floyd County of Zoning Ordinances and Codes. We have a fairly newly developed zoning ordinance now (finally after thirty years) which, in conjunction with the Comprehensive Plan, points to where we as a County want to be five, ten and twenty years from now.
Although variances to the ordinance would be necessary on occasions, if variances are given routinely and without specific application to the overall view of the Comprehensive Plan, we are diluting the ordinance to the extent that it becomes a worthless document again. The attractive, somewhat rural nature of Floyd County makes our area attractive as a place to get away from the increasingly urban environment of Louisville. If, however, we turn New Albany and Floyd County into an equally urbanized environment, we will potentially lose some of the unique nature that makes our county special. I think we need to pay closer attention to this area, especially in terms of development and housing.
Obviously, the issue of "smart growth", as you have termed it, can help make sure we develop the county without sacrificing some of that valuable rural atmosphere that has characterized us and made our environment special. A better term for this might be "wise development." No one is suggesting no further development of the county or a move toward harming the business of our developers and builders. It does become necessary, however, at some point in the argument, to draw a line between wise growth and development that is so dense, or intense, that it sacrifices the "personality" of the county or the surrounding community altogether. I believe our party promotes wise development as a core issue.
With regard to revitalization of our historic downtown business district and surrounding neighborhoods, I believe the issue itself touches on the unique balance between the governments of the city of New Albany and the county government of Floyd County. These two entities have at some times been at odds with each other. I believe there needs to be a "team attitude" toward government that draws from the limited resources made available to us to make sure that neither government nor communities are sacrificed for the other.
This is probably one area, however, where some of those "new ideas" previously mentioned need to be considered. The cost of duplication of services such as fire and police protection and sewage and waste disposal often make government spending wasteful and inefficient. Revitalization of downtown New Albany falls specifically under the authority of city government......yet often relies on financial assistance from county government. There is much disagreement about combined city and county government, county wide sewer systems and fire and police protection. However, with potentially decreasing financial support from our State Government in the future, only an irresponsible county government would totally disregard discourse on these issues in its future planning.
Conversely, attraction and retention of a creative, entrepreneurial community is an area where joint governmental perspective and teamwork is essential. In many ways, our Southern Indiana region has been seen by those in other parts of the State as backward and beyond help when the issue of entrepreneurial progress is discussed. These views and opinions must change.
We certainly enjoy many of the innovative advantages that come from being part of the Kentuckiana Metropolitan area. I believe that Floyd County needs to join not only with Clark County and other Southern Indiana regions, but also with Louisville in developing innovative programs that technologically bring us into the twenty first century.
Floyd County has state-of-the-art health care in Floyd Memorial Hospital. In some areas, we actually have shopping and services that compete well with Louisville. Yet in other areas, we are so far behind that improvement will not happen without a shared teamwork approach with our surrounding neighbors. These are areas where local and county government can improve and certainly must make stronger efforts to do so.
One of the areas that our candidates and political parties must improve on is communication with our citizenry.......especially in the area of incorporating innovate ideas of our younger generation. That message came through loud and clear in the New Albany city elections of last year.
I'm thrilled when I see the discourse, debate and even arguments over issues and events in our community through editorials, letters to the editor in our newspapers, commentaries on television programs and blogs and other discussions through the electronic media. Such forums allow us to share ideas and potential solutions to our community's problems that should not be ignored.
I have in no way provided all the solutions to the issues we face in New Albany and Floyd County in our future. But I know that by encouraging such debate and participation in our government process, we can find ways to improve our community that we probably never would have thought of otherwise. Especially in this arena of blog communication, I would encourage your readers to reach out to those who are older than you and sometimes fearful of the reliability of new medias to get their perspectives, without retribution, and work toward achieving solutions to our common problems that meets the needs of everyone. That kind of sounds like the role of government.......we all need to be involved in that process.
Thanks for letting me be involved in this one. Let's keep up the debate.
Chairman, Floyd County Republican Party
Candidate, Floyd County Commissioner
Thanks to Mr. Matthews for responding. County Democratic Chairperson Randy Stumler's response will likewise be posted, if received prior to the primary. In the meantime, reader comments are encouraged in order to, as Mr. Matthews suggests, keep up the debate.