As I stated I would do, I want to be very clear that the following is strictly my opinion on the District two commissioner race. While this race does have significant ties to the Criminal Justice Facilities Project that this blog is currently dedicated to getting information out about, the following is a post of political opinion.
I have had the opportunity over the past nearly six years to work side by side with Marc Huber. We first served together for two years on the county council. We then worked together for two years in his role as commissioner and my role on council. For the past year and a half, we have served together on the board of commissioners. During our time together on the county council, I found Marc to be a very independent thinker. We often found ourselves in the dissenting opinion to the rest of the council. That being the case, Marc was still able to be instrumental in helping get much needed funding for our township fire departments and ensuring that all county residents had access to Advance Life Support Ambulance Service. He has never been afraid to stand up for what he thought to be right or to take the heat for his opinions and votes.
During the first two years of his first term as Commissioner, while I still sat on the Council, it did not take long to see visible changes in the leadership from the Board of Commissioners. Marc jumped right in and brought his knowledge and common sense to bear on equipment issues at the Highway Department. He made road maintenance a top priority and we saw a vast improvement in the county roads maintenance plan. He took a leading role in the Jail Needs Assessment discussion and set out to solve a jail overcrowding issue that had been creeping up on Hancock County for a number of years. He used his valuable Council experience to build bridges between the two boards and helped lead the fight for increased road funding from the Council, and was very successful. While the Council majority was fixated on pushing a $40M fairgrounds project, Marc was ever reminding constituents and Council members about the larger need on the horizon… a solution to the jail overcrowding and the opioid epidemic we were seeing decimate our county. He voted both years to recommend to Council the hiring of additional jail staff to systematically, over a few years, bring the jail up to sufficient staffing. The Council as it has for a number of years, failed to act. As he always has, he prioritized public safety above all else and stood his ground against a Fairgrounds project that, had it moved forward, would have placed the county in debt for $40M and completely made funding the greater need of Criminal Justice Facilities impossible. That was responsible leadership. Leadership comes at a cost. Marc stood his ground and took the hard path of realizing that a “need” is more important than a “want”. He took political heat and I’m sure lost some supporters for doing what was right… Prioritizing an impending major need in the area of public safety over a “feel good” fairgrounds project.
For the past year and a half that we have served together on the Board of Commissioners, we have continued to work to improve our county roads with visible results. He again voted to recommend Council hire additional jail staff to which the Council said no. Marc has, every time with every issue, represented the residents and taxpayers with common sense and fiscal responsibility. Nearly, from my first day on the board, we have worked side by side along with Commissioner Armstrong to arrive at the most comprehensive plan to update our Criminal Justice facilities, creating efficiencies and ensuring that space and facilities are provided to carry out all the functions of our Criminal Justice System. He also has, from day one, demanded that space and resources for increased mental health and drug addiction programs be provided in the plan, to turn the tide on the massive drug crisis we have been facing.
Let me be very clear, being a Commissioner is not an easy job. For every person that is happy with a decision made there is another (if not more) that believe you just made the gravest decision for the county’s future. For each person that looks at an opinion or decision and says ‘Great job’… there are a dozen that try to say you are in this for yourself or have some sinister motive. There are plenty of opportunities for any of the three Commissioners to take the easy road. There are plenty of opportunities to take political cover and dissent against the majority when the writing on the wall says it would be politically expedient to do so. Marc Huber has never once done this. He is a man of great integrity and honesty. He is unabashedly unafraid to stand up for what he knows to be right and what he knows to be right and best for the constituents he is there to represent. Please take a moment and consider just how easy it would have been this election season for Marc Huber to have taken the easy road on the issue of the Criminal Justice Facilities Project. Each step of this process Mr. Huber has had numerous opportunities to build a voting record in opposition to this project knowing that his “YES” wasn’t needed to move forward knowing where Commissioner Armstrong and I stood on the issue. In fact, I’m sure it was obvious at times that him being in opposition would have forced his opponent into a position of support for the project. Had his opponent been in support of the need to move forward with design of the project, the county would be much farther along in design and there would be a lot more answers to the questions that everyone has regarding finances and the end product. Had this issue not been politicized and had there not been a concerted effort to push discussion of the very real need to address this issue until after the primary (after everyone had their office secured for the next four years), we would be much further down the road of making sure the people that protect us everyday have the facilities and resources they need. Marc, knowing the amount of push back from the public there would be for supporting such a large and necessary project, did what he knows to be right. He realizes that he was elected to lead…this term, and that waiting until after the election and delaying such a vital issue would have been irresponsible and wrong. Everyone that is in opposition today will change their tune after May 8th once they have secured their seat for the next four years. The residents of this county will see the project move forward after the primary not solely because it is the absolute necessary and right thing to do for Hancock County’s public safety, but because they won’t have to answer to you, the voter, for their decision for another four years. Marc chose the path of leading today. As he stated at the Commissioner candidates’ debate, “It would be easy to sit here and say no to this project, but sometimes you have to make the hard decisions. If you aren’t willing to make the hard decisions, maybe you shouldn’t be trying to sit up here.” (sic) So, in closing, if you want County Commissioners that will lead today and make the hard calls on important issues… stay the course with Commissioner Marc Huber, along with me.
If you oppose the referendum and the use of property taxes that’s fine. Speak your mind at the polls and be heard. That is why the Commissioners pushed the question to the ballot, so it would be discussed and you’d have the opportunity to be heard.
Please, though, don’t make the referendum question, being posed, also a referendum on the leadership of Commissioner Marc Huber. He has led from the front, never sacrificed his principles or your safety, and is ready to continue that leadership for another four years.
Please support Marc Huber for a second term as the District Two Commissioner.