Community leaders hold public forum for county commissioner candidates

Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 12:16 AM EDT
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ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - Candidates running for St. Joseph County Commissioner attended a virtual meeting to discuss some public concerns leading up to Election Day.

16 News Now tuned in to the public forum to hear what the candidates had to say.

To hear the thoughts of candidates running for St. Joseph County Commissioner in District 2, several faith and community leaders in the county came together to organize a virtual public forum.

“The purpose of this afternoon’s forum is to inform the candidates about some of the issues that are important to our members, to help our members get information to make informed decisions and to build public relationships with public officials," Near Northwest Neighborhood Community Organizer André Northern said.

Candidates Derek Dieter and Oliver Davis were each asked the same questions, and one of the major points of the discussion focused on the Indiana Enterprise Center, a proposed industrial project near New Carlisle.

“In its current format, I don’t support the IEC the way that it is and the recent vote and so on. Again, I do promote responsible growth, and I haven’t seen that," candidate Derek Dieter said.

“People want to live in rural areas. People want to live in urban areas. People choose to live in farmland and certain places. People in different places shouldn’t come and upset peoples' lives from that standpoint," candidate Oliver Davis said.

Organizers say they want a county commissioner who will invest in things like the health department and the homeless, rather than the IEC.

“There is a unique coalition of people coming together in this county. From farmers and environmentalists to people of faith and people concerned about the wellbeing of our community, coming together to demand that our county commissioners invest in the people of this community and not in consultants and major companies that are not invested in our wellbeing," Garrett Blad with the Open Spaces and Agricultural Alliance said.

After hearing each candidate agree to work with the organizations on their concerns if elected, Blad says he left tonight’s forum feeling hopeful.

“Tonight showed that both of these candidates have been looking to follow that leadership of what the community actually wants to see from our county commissioners.”

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