VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Vigo County commissioner’s race contains four high profile city and county officials hoping to win two open seats.
Districts 2 and 3 are open. Those positions were held by commissioners Brad and Judy Anderson.
Former candidate for mayor, Pat Goodwin, running as a Democrat, faces Republican Chris Switzer, for District 2 commissioner seat.
Switzer currently holds a seat with the County Council.
County commissioners are the executive branch of county government. They are responsible for county owned property likes jails and roads and county finances. They also plan economic development to retain and attract jobs, among other overseeing responsibilities.
“I think a lot of people don’t have trust in local leaders, and it’s years of things, it’s not just one person or anything like that it’s just why are we getting taxed this time, why are we building this this big,” Commissioner candidate Chris Switzer said.
Although Switzer says county government needs work, he plans to stay in his community. We caught up with him at the family run Switzer Auto Repair Shop where he tells us he and his father grew the business over the years.
“Taking that aspect of small business and putting it into Vigo County is something that we are longing for,” Switzer said.
Switzer is notably the youngest candidate running for Vigo County commissioner.
He says he wants to see a community where all eligible employees secure jobs already available. He says one of the biggest issues the community faces is alcohol and addiction.
We need to get our people sober and get them the help they need to become hirable and I think that’s a huge priority for this community to make it more desirable for outside business.”Chris Switzer
Switzer ran for county council in 2018 when he said he felt like his views weren’t represented. He secured that seat. Now he says if elected commissioner, he would work on open communication with the community.
“Making yourself more available for people to speak to, having meetings in the afternoons instead of the mornings, putting our meetings online, accepting public comment online, having a Q & A after the meeting or maybe even before.”
Switzer’s opponent, Pat Goodwin, grabbed attention during the 2019 mayor’s race. Goodwin narrowly lost the race to incumbent Duke Bennett by just over 200 votes.
Goodwin previously worked as Terre Haute city engineer and has owned and operated his own business over the years.
Businesses locate where they think their employees will be happy, where they will be able to find things to do, where they will be safe, where they’ll be arts and culture and where they can get good paying jobs. So we have to create that atmosphere here and the jobs will follow.”Pat Goodwin
Goodwin says he thinks he has the right experience and approach to do good things for the community.
“I saw a great opportunity to enter public service as an elected official, as an elected executive of local government to move the community forward,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin says his aim if elected if to shift the commissioner role from reactive to proactive.
“That means doing things like actively planning and having public forums where we invite people to come and express their views and opinions.”
All four candidates agree communication between county officials, city officials and the community needs improvement.
“We need to have leaders who want to work together and are more worried about accomplishing our goals than who’s going to get the credit for them.”
Goodwin says teamwork is needed to spend county money wisely during the pandemic and after. He says jail operation costs and resources provided at the jail are still in question. He says it’s an opportunity for officials to create better outcomes for the community.
The candidates hope to join the most recently elected commissioner, democrat Brendan Kearns.
Thursday, we will feature current Terre Haute Fire Chief Jeff Fisher and current county councilman Mike Morris. The two face off for district 3 commissioner seat.