Two members of Allen County Council have no challengers in the Nov. 6 election: Joel Benz is unopposed in District 3, in the northwest quadrant of the county, and Larry Brown has no challenger in District 4, roughly the southwest quadrant.
Allen County Council Democrat Sharon Tucker and Republican Tom Harris each drew challengers in their respective re-election contests, but constituents in Tucker's southeast District 1 and Harris' northeast District 2 are well-served by the incumbents. Each has earned re-election.
Tucker, a manager at 1st Source Insurance, is finishing her first term on council, where she lends a different perspective.
“The council (members) that I serve with all tend to have the same thought process – there's not an outlier,” she said. “I think I bring diversity of thought to the process because I bring them a different point of view. I've noticed in my 31/2 years that it's actually had an impact.”
She cites personnel decisions at the Allen County Juvenile Center, tax abatement requests and the county salary study as examples.
In 2019, the county's growing surplus is an issue to consider, Tucker said. The council has considered forgoing collection of its full levy as the surplus is around $100 million, she said.
“How do we get the money back to the citizens in the county, and not to business organizations and hope it trickles down?” she asked.
While there has been no official request for additional county investment in the Electric Works project, Tucker said she supports the project but is wary of how it might benefit her constituents.
“How does that help the farmer in Hoagland? I haven't quite gotten the answer,” she said.
Tucker's challenger, Kimberly Doster, is a Realtor and New Haven resident. For a first-time candidate, she is exceptionally well versed on council issues. While she fails to make the case she would be a better representative for District 1, Doster's interest in local government should be utilized somewhere.
Harris, a human resources consultant in his second term on council, is an effective fiscal watchdog. He also has questioned how redevelopment of the GE campus will benefit the county economically.
And while he supported a $500,000 grant to the Lutheran Foundation to expand drug treatment capacity, Harris suggests the county's role in the opioid battle might be to ensure the judicial system operates efficiently.
Harris is an advocate for improving infrastructure and is mindful of the need for improved security at the jail and juvenile center. Managing county growth is another priority.
Harris' challenger, Ben Schoch, is a sales representative at A+ Computers. Like Doster, he has not attended council meetings, but he offers some interesting ideas about how council might spur development with investments in broadband technology in rural areas of Allen County. Schoch has been active in his Frances Slocum neighborhood association and should continue his involvement in local government.