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Opinion

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Voters can help modernize county government

Peters

Everyone would agree that our world and community have changed immensely in the last 190 years. Innovations in communication, transportation and manufacturing have challenged society to adapt. But in one fundamental respect, Allen County is still functioning just as it did back in the 1820s: its county government. The county commission, with its three elected commissioners who share authority, serves as both the executive and legislative branch for county government; not much of a check and balance.

In my 10 years as a county commissioner, I’ve seen firsthand how cumbersome and difficult it can be to react quickly to and reach consensus on the many pressing issues facing our community. For example, I know my constituents care about job creation, and I’ve helped to make Allen County more business-friendly to potential employers. But I can only imagine how much more could have been accomplished and how quickly it could have been done had there been only one person making decisions.

As it stands, county government is organized in a horizontal line, not a pyramid. There is no ultimate authority, no one to hold accountable when something goes wrong, which can create a lot of finger-pointing but no real solutions.

Can you imagine successful companies being run with three CEOs? How cumbersome that would be to get anything done. How long might a company maintain profitability under those circumstances? Or how about running a city with three mayors? If the current county model works well, then shouldn’t it be applied to cities as well?

On Nov. 4, Allen County voters will have the unique opportunity to modernize and streamline county government by voting yes on a referendum question that asks: “Shall the county government of Allen County be reorganized to place all executive powers in a Single County Executive and to place all legislative and fiscal powers in the County Council?”

If the referendum passes, a single county executive would be elected in November 2018 to replace the current three-member county commission. This individual would provide a single point of contact for, among other things, economic development and job creation. Constituents would have one individual to hold accountable for the successes and failures of the county and could vote that individual in or out of office accordingly. As President Harry S. Truman so famously said: “the buck would stop” with this person.

More than 400 U.S. cities and communities in 28 states have adopted the single executive system, and local business leaders have long supported the concept as well. They all have recognized how antiquated our current system is and how much more could be accomplished under a system with traditional lines of authority.

On Nov. 4, vote to make Allen County government more efficient, more accountable and more effective. Vote yes on the single county executive referendum.

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