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Town Will Have Rare Election This Fall
July 11, 2007 - Voters in Knightstown will get something this fall that they haven't had for possibly 20 years or more: local elections.
For the first time in a very long time - county and local officials were unable to readily say exactly how long - incumbents on the Knightstown Town Council will be facing challenges from other candidates. Council President David Glenn, Vice President Nate Hamilton and council member Cort Swincher, all Republicans, are each seeking reelection this fall. With candidates still having until noon on August 1 to file paperwork with the Henry County Clerk allowing them to run for town council and other local offices, Glenn and Hamilton have each already drawn one political opponent, while Swincher has two.
Glenn is facing a challenge for his Ward 4 seat from independent candidate Terry Guerin. Two other independent candidates, Robert Weber and Clyde South, are vying for the Ward 3 and Ward 1 seats presently held by Swincher and Hamilton, respectively. Bryan Jason Miller, a Libertarian, has also filed to run against Swincher.
Knightstown Clerk-Treasurer Judy Haines and Town Court Judge Hayden Butler are also seeking reelection this fall. So far, no other candidates have filed to run against either of them.
Guerin, who works as a governmental affairs representative for the Michigan Waste Industries Association, told The Banner that his decision to run was prompted by dissatisfaction with the town's current leadership.
"I felt that the town council has not been responsive to citizens," Guerin said. "The primary example is the petition we brought to the town council last fall when they we're looking for a new police chief - I believe we had about 300 signatures - and we were basically ignored.
"The other reason is that this is supposed to be an open form of government," Guerin continued. "But what has been transpiring here is a closed government. We don't know what's going on and why." As an example, he cited the council's recent decision to fire one of its officers, a decision made without the endorsement of the police chief at the time, without fully explaining why they were taking the action they were taking.
Guerin said he viewed his candidacy and those of South and Weber as a "referendum on change." He said if other concerned citizens are unhappy with the way things are currently going, "they need to make their voices heard at the ballot box." He also said that those who are eligible to vote but aren't registered need to do so "if they want to participate in bringing some positive change this fall."
South, a retired factory worker who also served more than 30 years as a UAW collective bargaining representative, said his decision to seek the Ward #1council seat was motivated by a desire to help improve the town.
"I just thought that I might be able to contribute a little bit and maybe make things a little bit different from what they are," South said. "I think Knightstown's got great potential, but it hasn't been fully developed." South is now in his third year serving on the town's plan commission and is its current president.
Asked about their decisions to run as independents, both Guerin and South said this was done to avoid partisan politics.
"I don't think partisan politics ought to be involved in local town government," said South. "To me, I don't think it means a whole lot of difference if you're Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or whatever you are. You ought to be able to look at issues and problems and have ideas on how they ought to be fixed through debate and information sharing."
Guerin agreed that partisan politics was something he hoped to avoid through his independent candidacy. Looking back on his own voting history, he said he hand long ago abandoned the practice of voting a straight ticket, where a candidate's party affiliation is the sole determining factor in whether or not they get a voter's support.
(In coming weeks, The Banner will feature candidate profiles for all candidates seeking local office. - Ed.)
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