By CHRIS MORRIS
FLOYD COUNTY —
Sometimes, history does repeat itself.
Two of the three Floyd County Commissioners’ seats are up for grabs Election Day. And just like four years ago, the same four candidates are vying for those seats.
Democratic incumbent Chuck Freiberger seeks a fourth term against Republican Dave Matthews in the District 2 race while Steve Bush, a two-term Republican incumbent, faces Democrat Dennis Roudenbush for the District 3 seat.
Freiberger and Matthews both said they have a passion for helping others and serving the community. The voters will decide Nov. 6 who gets the nod in this rematch from four years ago.
Freiberger, 52, a teacher at Highland Hills Middle School, is seeking a fourth term as commissioner and prior to that served 12 years on the county council. He came up short two years ago against Ron Grooms in his bid for the Indiana State Senate.
He said he wants to continue to serve the residents of Floyd County.
“I enjoy what I do,” Freiberger said. “I like helping the community and I think because of my experience, I am able to cut through the red tape.”
Matthews, a retired Air Force pilot who now flies for UPS, is chairman of the Floyd County Republican Party, although his wife Cheryl has taken over the duties during the campaign. He said he has a history “of community service throughout my adult life.” He has been an elder at his church, a Boy Scout leader and for eight years was a member of the Greenville Town Council. He said he has a desire for public service.
“I have no agenda and I am not doing this for insurance or a paycheck. I just want to serve the community,” he said. “I just think we need new thinking. Chuck has been in there 12 years and I have nothing against him, but I think I can be a better commissioner.”
Freiberger said he is proud of his work on the council for the past 12 years, including helping residents of Jenny and Paul lanes save their homes after their septic tanks failed. They eventually were able to hook on to sewer lines without using taxpayer money, he said. He said purchasing and opening the Pine View Government Center and moving the youth shelter to that location was also a highlight in the last four years.
“I feel like I have the connections and the personality to get along with people,” he said. “I try to unite the community, not divide it. And up until recently [city and county] I feel like we have been on the right road. I would like to see us work closer together in order to save taxpayers money and keep from duplicating services.”
Matthews, 58, who collected 39 percent of the vote against Freiberger four years ago, said healing the city and county relationship is at the top of his priority list.
“We are the second smallest county in the state and we don’t need to duplicate services,” he said. “If we would have combined 911 dispatchers we could have saved $250,000. I think we need to try and sit down with the mayor and see how we can get along. We need to combine as many services as possible. We can’t keep building more walls.”
Like Freiberger, Bush said he is pleased with what the commissioners have accomplished in the past four years. However, he said there is still work to be done.
“There are still some issues that need to be taken care of,” said Bush, a New Albany police officer. “I still enjoy serving the community and being part of the decision making team.”
Roudenbush, 62, said his passion to help others, as demonstrated by his work as the Georgetown Township Trustee, is what motivates him to be a commissioner. He said he will be a full-time commissioner, and do whatever it takes to help residents.
“I love the trustees job. I love helping people,” said Roudenbush, who lost to Bush four years ago by 598 votes. “I call it the way I see it and when I’m wrong I say I am wrong.”
Roudenbush said he wants to clean up Floyd County. He said he also wants to encourage businesses to relocate and bring good paying jobs to the county, but does not want to destroy the scenic beauty of the area. He said he has worked with state and railroad officials to get weeds cut in Georgetown Township and knows how to get things done.
“We do not have good paying jobs out in the county. I have confidence in what I can do ... I know what is right and wrong and I am not political,” said Roudenbush, who has worked in the grocery business for more than 30 years. “I feel like I have as much energy as an 18-year-old. I think I have some good ideas.”
Bush said he favors streamlining more government services to save taxpayers’ money. He said a bi-partisan group, which he was part of, came up with the 911 merger which would have saved $250,000 a year. However, that measure was voted down by the New Albany City Council.
“We would have saved money and provided better services to the community,” said Bush, who along with then-Mayor Doug England was in favor of the merger. “We are all one community and we do not need to duplicate services like planning and zoning.”
Roudenbush said he gets his ideas from talking to and listening to residents. He said he knows how to bring people together and be a problem solver.
“I have a whole lot of management experience,” he said. “My ideas come from people and from being a township trustee.”
He said he doesn’t know if Mayor Jeff Gahan’s recent decision to split the parks department is right or wrong.
“I think you have to meet each other halfway; there has to be cooperation,” Roudenbush said. “I think with my management experience that is a plus.”
Bush said he has always been in favor of streamlining services and has not seen relations between the city and county as bad as they are today during his eight years in office.
“We always need to be looking at ways we can work together,” he said. “We are obligated to the public ... we need to find common solutions.”
Bush said buying Pine View, turning it into a county government center and moving the youth shelter into the facility was a great move.
“We were able to move offices out there to better service the people,” he said. “I am also happy with the planning and zoning ordinances we have passed to better guide our county. The main thing is to continue to find ways to provide better services for the public.”