The math is intriguing. Right now, there are seven Allen County councilmen, three who represent the county at large and four who each represent a large section of the county. The council controls the public purse strings, but it does not make policy.
A referendum on this fall’s ballot would enlarge the council and enhance its power. There would be nine members, each representing a smaller district. There would be no at-large members. And the council would become the county’s legislative body.
A key question for voters to consider will be whether this enhances or diminishes their voice in local government.
The other big question is whether the county’s interests would be better represented by a single county executive instead of the current three-commissioner system. That executive would be, in effect, the face of county government, able to deal with day-to-day issues and decisions and – it would be hoped – to simplify interactions with businesses and potential businesses, city and state agencies and others who must now go from one commissioner to another for answers.
Overhauling the very old system that is Allen County government is not a simple task, nor is it one that should be taken lightly. Given the traditionally light turnouts in non-presidential elections, there is a danger that this decision, with all its long-range implications for everyone who lives here, will be made by whichever small, organized group is best able to get its members to the polls. If you sit out this election, that group will end up speaking for you.
Don’t let that happen. Come to the Park Hill Learning Center, 1000 Prospect Ave. in New Haven, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, where Allen County 1st District Commissioner Nelson Peters and Matt Bell, a former legislator who also served as the founding chief executive officer of the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana, will speak in favor of the referendum.
Representatives of the Indiana Farm Bureau will explain why their organization opposes it.
Get informed on this mega-issue.