VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Two Vigo County commissioner seats will open up at the end of the year and four high profile hopefuls are vying for the seats.
Commissioners are the executive branch of county government. They are responsible for county owned property likes jails and roads and county finances. They also work to retain and attract jobs among other responsibilities.
Terre Haute Fire Chief Jeff Fisher, running as a Democrat, and county councilman Mike Morris, running as a Republican, will face off for District 3’s seat.
Jeff Fisher has served Terre Haute with the fire department for 31 years. We know him now as chief, but next spring he’ll retire from his role. In the meantime, he’s confident in a win for Vigo County commissioner.
“I’m approachable and I will be approachable when I’m in the commissioner’s office,” Fisher said.
Fisher, along with all commissioner candidates, says communication is lacking in county government. He wants to see commissioner meetings more accessible to the public whether that’s in person or online.
I’ve been to enough meetings to know that people are upset by the way things are running … The good ole boy system is starting to filter it’s way out and I think with that we’re improving.”Jeff Fisher
Fisher notes the casino, convention center, riverfront concert venue and V.A. clinic projects all contribute to a growing vibrant county.
“We got great things happening and it’s going to change. Vibrant? We’re getting there.”
But that’s not to ignore current issues like homelessness.
“We can look at some shelter for these people. We’re coming into our cold months and some of these people need to get out of the weather and we need shelters for these people and I know one of the commissioners is looking at that now.”
Fisher says he also hopes to see rehabilitation for drug offenders in the new Vigo County Jail. As far as work between county officials, he says the bickering has to end.
Fisher notes that in his current role, communication is essential, in most cases, life-saving. It’s an improvement he thinks he can bring to office.
“I’ve served my community for 31 years, I’m not done yet.”
Fisher’s opponent, Mike Morris has served on the Vigo County council for 10 years. He says he’s managed the council’s annual budget committee for four of those years.
“I’m well aware of what each department’s need are financially and I’m aware what their plans are for the future,” Morris said.
It’s county finances that he says he’d like to see better managed if he takes office.
We’ve got several projects and progress in the county and I want to see that they are brought in on time and on budget.”Mike Morris
Another change Morris hopes to bring to the commissioner’s role is switching up board roles.
“So many people ask how this is determined or how that’s determined and a lot of it’s by boards,” he said.
Morris hopes to bring new members to already existing board roles. Still, he says over the years he’s seen more positives in Vigo County.
“We have actually been able to retain businesses and bring new ones in.”
Morris says previously disjointed efforts in the county are being resolved.
“I believe right now we’ve brought those efforts together and focused them in much better than we have in years past and I think those are going to continue to pay dividends.”
Some of those efforts over the years, Morris notes, include the upcoming casino, Hearthside Food Solutions in Seelyville and a turkey hatchery. He also mentioned the restructure of the county highway department to better stretch dollars.
It also implemented a new information system to direct road crews to what projects need attention. Ultimately Morris says he wants to see county officials respond to their “clients” or taxpayers to the county.