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May 5, 2012

ELECTION 2012: Three Republicans look to unseat Freiberger

Floyd County District 2 commissioners race features three GOP veterans

NEW ALBANY — Choice.

That is what three Republican candidates for the Floyd County Commissioner District 2 seat want to give the voters. But before Bill Fender, John Kettler or Dave Matthews can prepare for a November showdown against two-term Democratic incumbent Chuck Freiberger, they must first win Tuesday’s primary election.

All three Republicans candidates are political veterans, having held or ran for office in the past. Matthews was on the Greenville Town Board for eight years and for the past six years has been chairman of the Floyd County Republican Party. Fender was on the Floyd County Council for two terms and Kettler unsuccessfully ran for Floyd County Council eight years ago.

The three all believe they have what it takes to beat Freiberger in the fall, and they all agree on one thing — Floyd County government needs new blood.

“I think we need new leadership,” Kettler said. “There are some issues in Floyd County that need addressed and no one is doing that right now. I don’t think you should go into public service as a career. That is not what it should be. You should go in, make changes that need to be made and get out.”

“Chuck has done the job for eight years, and I think I could do a better job,” said Matthews, who lost to Freiberger four years ago. “If I thought he was doing an exemplary job, I wouldn’t want to run against him.”

Fender, 61, said his “unique background” in business would be a plus for county government.

“I think I could improve the way we do projects,” Fender said. “I’ve been overseeing projects since 1973 and I see a tremendous need to have someone with project management experience in county government. I want to bring that experience to the board of commissioners.”

Matthews, 58, a former Air Force pilot who currently flies for UPS, said he has spent much of his life in public service and is committed to Floyd County. He said his background in the military and his public service experience make him a good candidate.

“I think I would bring good leadership skills to the commissioners,” he said. “I am running against two other gentlemen who I like. I think they are good men, I have nothing against either one of them. But I wouldn’t be running against them if I didn’t think I could do a better job.”

Kettler, 72, said he would like to see more work being done along residential streets and neighborhoods.

“I think more can be done to clean up neighborhoods and help instill pride and ownership in people who live in those areas,” he said. “I think there are a number of things that need to be addressed. I think we need some sort of anti-noise ordinance. I think if you are on your own property you should not be lambasted by extreme noise. People are entitled to peace and quiet.”

Fender said making sure road projects move along as quickly as possible is important to residents who have to deal with the shutdowns and delays.

“There is the Paoli Pike [road] project, where they are waiting for utilities to be moved. The list goes on and on,” he said.  

Fender said he would like to see more bike lanes and walking paths built into some of the county roads.

“I think if we could find a little more money we could make it safer for recreational users,” he said.

He also said the county should find “the highest and best use” for the North Annex property along Grant Line Road that will be vacated later this year.

“That will probably wind up being commercial. We should leave no stone unturned,” he said.

Matthews said he would like to see the county act on some of the recommendation of the Kernan-Shepard Streamlining Local Government report. Matthews said he was in favor of the 911 merger, which was voted down last year by the city, and would like to explore more ways to combine services to save taxpayers money.

But first, city and county leaders need to be able to talk and discuss issues, he said.

“There seems to be an adversarial relationship between the city and county. I think it can be improved,” Matthews said. “What we really need is cooperation and I think I can help do that. I have been a bridge-builder during my career.”

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