Notes scribbled while listening to Sen. Susan Collins’ speech . . .
We are 28 days away from what is usually known as a minor election. The so-called mid-terms – called such because it’s the election that comes in the middle of the chief executive’s term – typically don’t produce huge turnouts. With the sickening mess we’ve watched unfold over the Supreme Court nomination this one might be different. Regardless of which side of the aisle you prefer to sit, most agree that this is an important election.
Hard to disagree.
It’s also an important election right here in River City – with a capital E and that rhymes with C and that stands for county.
The local Republicans have been split for a while now between those on the far right and others who are more moderate. The far right have found unusual bedfellows in both independents and Democrats as they band together on property rights and their opposition to wind turbines.
There’s nothing new there. That division has been going on for a while. However, there is a growing division between city and county and this election will have a definitive impact on that in both the county council and county commissioners.
How’s that?
Greg Wilcox and Ed Stephens are challenging incumbents Mark Smith and Jim Fulwider respectively, Wilcox on the council and Stephens for commissioner. Most people I talked to a couple of months ago said Smith and Fulwider were prohibitive favorites. I agreed. However, in the last few weeks, multiple people in the know (from both sides) told me that if the election were held today, Wilcox and Stephens win.
If that happens, that division between city and county grows wider.
Fulwider and Smith are allied with Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton and support current economic efforts to move forward with a comprehensive plan. Wilcox and Stephens stand adamantly opposed because they say the plan is just a step toward zoning – even though the majority of the county’s 38,000 residents are already covered by Crawfordsville city (plus two-mile limit) zoning ordinances.
The county council is already leaning toward the anti-zoning side. A win by Wilcox pushes that lean further. The commissioners are solidly with the city and a win by Stephens would only turn a 3-0 vote into 2-1. However, like Terry Hockersmith who served in that seat before, Stephens will be heard and his voice will serve as potentially the lone dissent.
The other underlying issue at play is the wind turbine question. Although commissioners Fulwider, John Frey and Phil Bane recently voted 3-0 to slow the process, the perception – fair or unfair – has been that the move was politically motivated to help Fulwider’s re-election efforts.
If Stephens and Wilcox win, the crowd fighting zoning and wind farms gets a shot in the arm (although it’s still hard for this reporter to understand how anti-zoning and anti-wind farm groups are aligned). If Fulwider and Smith come out on top, current plans likely move forward. If there’s a split, things get even more muddled. Either way, look for the city to continue with its own economic strategies – with or without county support.
Without a doubt, the race is on. All candidates have 28 days to finish strong. Or not.
Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at ttimmons@thepaper24-7.com.