There is no question that the major attraction for most of the voters in next Tuesday’s Consolidated Election is the race for three seats on the Decatur City Council.
The six candidates are, in the order they will appear on the April 6th ballot: David J. Horn (incumbent), Ed Culp, Chuck Kuhle (incumbent), Marty Watkins, William (Will) Wetzel and Jacob Jenkins.
Frankly, it seems that the race for the council has been going on forever and yet, as mentioned in last week’s column, because of campaign appearance limitations due to COVID-19, and a general burnout on elections as a result of everything that has transpired nationally the past year, with less than a week to go, candidate platforms and promises still haven’t found the traditional lodging in the minds of many voters,
I believe we have a good slate of candidates with honest motivations for running and I certainly want to commend each one of them for wanting to serve the community on the city council.
However, only three will be elected from the field that started out with over a dozen candidates.
When I cast my three votes, they will be for the two incumbents, David Horn and Chuck Kuhle. My third vote will be for Ed Culp.
• David Horn has displayed a stability during the COVID-19 pandemic that reflected a strong resolve to protect our citizens from the virus.
His support for the stringent measures necessary to reduce the spread of the virus was solid.
He has also shown an independence in researching and voting for what he feels benefits the community, instead of caving to demands of one group or another.
There may be times when he drives some members of the council and city staff to extreme frustration, as I’ve been told from time to time, but I believe his motivation is in the best interest of the community.
We have a tough road ahead and, considering how incumbent Horn has handled his role during the pandemic, his experience during this time is needed as we move forward into a better day.
Although he is the only candidate I will vote for who endorses (and voted for) a recreational marijuana dispensary in Decatur, I believe what he brings to the table in other aspects of the council, outweighs that one particular vote, which was on the losing side of the discussion.
• Chuck Kuhle is the other incumbent that will get my vote for re-election. I endorsed him four years ago and I see no reason to withdraw that endorsement this time. He has taken a lot of static because of some of his votes (especially against the marijuana dispensary), but I’ve known him for years and I know that his motivation in seeking re-election is to be a part of making the community better.
I also know that many businesses appreciate his standing up for them during this difficult time because there’s been a lot of economic frustration expressed by the business community.
I know that the decision to run for re-election was one that he did not make on the spur of the moment.
For any officeholder to decide to run for re-election during this wild time, shows a commitment to see the process of helping a community emerge in better shape than we were before the pandemic hit.
Now is not a time to abandon incumbents who have served during one of the worse times in this community’s history because of COVID-19.
Their work is not finished. The next four years will be tough, but Horn and Kuhle face them with four years of experience in the worst of it. They are still needed to see us the rest of the way through.
• Ed Culp. Ed is an easy endorsement. With a tremendous background of continuing service to this community, he is highly regarded as a leader and Decatur is fortunate to have someone of his caliber step forward during a hard time and indicate he wants to be part of building the community in a positive way. I have no doubt that Ed will be a solid member of the city council and he easily gets one of my three votes.
Although I don’t have a fourth vote to give to Marty Watkins I do believe he has run a very strong race for city council and hit a lot of the right buttons.
His strong showing in the February Primary certainly made him a legitimate contender for one of the council seats. I like Marty and I think a lot of people recognize his strong desire to serve the community on the council.
However, I was a little surprised by an email he sent me last week responding to my question a few weeks ago about where he stood on the question of allowing a recreational marijuana dispensary in the city limits of Decatur.
Marty wrote: “I have researched, prayed and referenced the Bible as it relates to the subject matter. Cannabis has literally survived through centuries of existence. This plant and all medical plants and herbs are still here helping people. The Bible says in Genesis Chapter 1 verse 12 ‘The land was filled with seed – bearing plants and trees, and their seeds produced plants and trees of like kind and God saw that was good.’
“If God says that it is good, I will not argue the point. The revenue would benefit the whole community, the revenue could be used for general fund, road repairs, etc. I would support a dispensary.”
I will have to admit that I’ve never read an argument in support of a marijuana dispensary by a candidate who indicates that God says marijuana is good which is the basic reason for supporting a dispensary.
Marty certainly has the right to make a marijuana dispensary in our city limits as part of his platform, and he has, but I’m not sure of the logic used in explaining why he feels that way.
Are those opposed to the marijuana dispensary then “anti-God”?
• IN ALL fairness this time around, I do not know the two remaining candidates on the ballot — William (Will) Wetzel and Jacob Jenkins — as well as I have the other four over the years.
Unlike other races in the past I did not have the opportunity to sit down and talk one-on-one with them and develop stronger impressions of their candidacies due to our newspaper offices not being open for public access for the over a year — and my recent medical emergency which changed some plans for how I approached this campaign.
Both Wetzel and Jenkins have provided me with information about their candidacies during the campaign and both candidates certainly are running for council with the right motivation.
I hope, if they are not elected to the city council on Tuesday, that they will continue to be involved in Decatur affairs in the future.
I look forward to talking with them and sharing sharing their views with our readers.
• ALTHOUGH, as indicated earlier in this column, there hasn’t been overwhelming interest in the city council race, or about any other race, this time around, the one issue that may yet spark a larger turnout on Tuesday, is the question of locating a recreational marijuana dispensary in the city limits of Decatur.
Although the city council has previously rejected the idea, if pro-dispensary candidates do well, the council could, and probably would, revisit the issue.
That’s an issue that is easy for a voter to understand.
• THE reality of Tuesday’s Decatur City Council balloting is that it may turn into a referendum on a marijuana dispensary in Decatur.
Two candidates presently oppose it: Chuck Kuhle (who voted against it as a councilman) and Ed Culp. The other four candidates support the dispensary.
I think it is also worth noting that both Kuhle and Culp in the past have been open to examining the impact of such dispensaries on other communities which approved them.
The city council must know the “downside” to the dispensary issue instead of the big focus on “revenue”.
Additional revenue is available — but at what cost in other ways?
I believe the city council learned a valuable lesson through the approval of video gaming which unexpectedly took off like a rocket before the city could get a handle on it!
• I WOULD speculate that candidate Marty Watkins took until shortly before the election to make up his mind and “do research” on the dispensary with seeing an opportunity to defeat either Kuhle or Culp.
Probably, when it comes to a political move, Watkins, showed some skill in not adopting the same position as either Kuhle or Culp on this issue.
How that move turns out on election day will be interesting to watch. Will he lose more votes than he gains by that move?
• I HAVE indicated in today’s column where I intend to use my three votes for three city council candidates.
How about you?
Each one of us has the opportunity to vote for the “three candidates of our choice”. Be sure and participate in the process to elect those who represent you on council, school board and other public bodies.
Make up your own mind and then feel good about casting your votes.
• Join me in the “City Hall Insider” portion of WSOY’s “Byers & Co.” at 7:00 every Thursday morning as we discuss campaigns and other issues.
Brian is a long-time friend and I always enjoy talking with him.