FORT WAYNE – Linda Bloom will have to fight to win a sixth term as an Allen County Commissioner.
Bloom has represented the Commission’s 3rd District since 1995; she faces longtime County Councilman Roy Buskirk and retired county employee Michael Mike Mills in the May 6 Republican primary.
Before winning a commissioner seat, Bloom was Allen County auditor from 1987 to 1994, before that she was county treasurer from 1980 to 1986. Her election as a county commissioner in 1994 made her the first woman to hold the position.
Bloom, 72, oversees operations of the Allen County Highway Department and has been directly involved in developing and acquiring state and federal funding for a number of highway and bridge projects in Allen County, including the Maplecrest Road Extension and the new three-mile stretch of U.S. 24. She is a member of the Urban Transportation Advisory Board, serves on the board of the Allen County Courthouse Preservation Trust, is the chair of the County’s iMap/Geographic Information System board, the Allen County Drainage Board, serves as liaison to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum Board of Directors and is treasurer of the Multi-Agency Communications Partnership.
She could not be reached for comment.
Buskirk, 69, has spent over a decade as an at-large representative on the Allen County Council. He said the biggest issue in the election is jobs.
We’ve got to be able to work with expanding companies and attract new companies, Buskirk said. That is one reason why three years ago I started the interlocal permitting board with the city (of Fort Wayne).
The Joint Oversight Permitting Board creates one place for companies to apply for, pay for and submit documents online for city and county permits. Buskirk said that makes a big difference for companies wanting to expand or locate here. He cites the recent General Mills project, where the architect was located out of state, but was able to handle permitting from their own location.
Buskirk said he is running against Bloom only because they both live in the same district.
If I want to be commissioner, I have to run against her, he said. I appreciate what Linda has done, but I think it’s time for a change, time to have different eyes looking at the problem and being creative on solutions.
In November, voters will decide whether to abolish the current three-commissioner board and move to a single county executive starting in 2019. Buskirk said the move will not affect him either way, as he does not plan to run for re-election.
He said he doesn’t have a problem with the change, but dislikes the idea of expanding the County Council from seven members – four districts and three at-large members – to nine single-member districts. He prefers six districts and three at-large members, like the Fort Wayne City Council has.
Mills, 45, was a supervisor in the Allen County Jail until his retirement in 2007. He is currently unemployed, but hopes to continue working toward a teaching degree at IPFW. He said the biggest issue in the election is corruption.
The whole system, it’s all corrupt, Mills said. Linda Bloom’s been in office 30 years, and look how many high-paying jobs we’ve lost, look how many companies we’ve lost – and she thinks she’s doing a great job.
He said county government is not accessible to the public.
The meetings are all held in the daytime when the majority of people are working, Mills said. It should be held when people can go to it.
He said at least once a month the meetings should be in the form of an open house, where the public can ask questions and get information about what’s going on.
People are tired of the corruption in both parties, Mills said.