What specific experiences and skills qualify you to be a good commissioner?
My specific experiences and skills that qualify me to be a good commissioner all revolve around community service and servant leadership. I have been serving the citizens of South Bend and St. Joseph County since 1975. As a member of the South Bend Police Department for 39 years, including 20 on the SWAT Team, 12 years on the South Bend City Council, father of five, business owner, coach, mentor, and community activist. I understand and have personal experience with the issues that our citizens encounter daily and will address those together with members of the community. Passionate, understanding, and caring are what I will bring to the Commissioner’s office. One of the programs I have implemented that sets me apart from the other candidates, “Dial Dieter-24,” is a guarantee that I will return your phone call, text, or email within 24 hours to address your concerns. I just don’t “Talk the Talk”, I have been walking the talk since 1975 and continue to do so daily.
What are your top two priorities as Commissioner if you are (re)elected in 2020? Why these?
My top two priorities if I am elected Commissioner is to first, establish a clear communications channel between the people, towns, and communities within District 2 to set clear goals in conjunction with the county budget. Second, I will review and audit the County Budget to ensure monies are being wisely and in a responsible manner to benefit all citizens of St. Joe County. As a commissioner, you are elected to serve the people which includes being attentive to their needs. The only way to do this is to go out into the communities and listen to what members have to say. I will also institute a youth, citizen, and business of the month award-as I had done on the city council. I will attend Town Hall meetings to give updates on budgets affecting the towns to come to you as an elected official. I will attend informal settings to answer questions to put people’s minds at ease and freely talk about issues they face in their own communities.
What is your position on the Indiana Enterprise Center (IEC) – the 7,200 acres of planned development located east of the Town of New Carlisle and west of the City of South Bend in northwestern St. Joseph County? How can the county best balance propose industrial development with existing agricultural uses, conservation, and quality of life enhancements?
Since announcing my candidacy on February 6th, I have been involved with all aspects of this controversy. I have attended the Olive Township Board meeting, two New Carlisle Town Board meetings, spoke to members of the St. Joseph County Open Space and Agricultural Alliance and attended their press conference at the County-City Building. I have been to County Commissioner meetings, and St. Joe County Redevelopment meetings. In addition, I have driven around with and spoke to landowners. I have spoken with residents at the Olive Township Library, elected county officials, and Redevelopment Director Bill Schalliol. What I have learned is that the community citizens feel they have been left out of the building process. RESPONSIBLE GROWTH is the key. Being able to listen to all people involved leads to further discussion, with open dialog and information sharing and discussion. I would work to find a balance for everyone concerned. RESPONSIBLE GROWTH is good for the community.
Who should provide leaf pickup and curbside recycling services? Who should deliver the services and who should pay?
Currently, St Joseph County Recycling provides leaf collection and Borden Waste provides recycling. Since 2013, only one qualified company has responded to the bid for the Leaf Pick-Up program even though SJC put the request out three times over seven years. SJC Highway Department previously picked up leaves beginning in 1990 but ended in 2002 after many citizens were upset and complained about the quality of service. The recycling program is very much like the leaf program. Only one qualified bidder responded. Locking in the vendors into long term contracts provides SJC budget/cost stability. This provides the vendors a longer amortization period for capital expenditure investments which both vendors have passed along to SJC as lower long term pricing agreements. Who should provide the leaf pick up and recycling services? The leaf and recycling provider, as with all contracts with St Joe County, should be the company that provides the most reliable and best quality service.
The 911 response center has been struggling. What specific suggestions to you have to contain costs, avoid dispatch delays, and improve working conditions?
The 911 Center has been an issue since its planning and inception. My experience as a police officer for 39 years, with duties that also included dispatching, is unmatched by any candidate or elected official. I will work with front line workers to thoroughly analyze the current posture of the 911 Center and correct the current inefficiencies of the center. The entire planning process, or lack thereof, remained with the County Commissioners for 2 ½ years. When their plan finally came to the three local governments, the Cities of Mishawaka and South Bend and St. Joseph County Council we were pushed on making a decision quickly. All three units had to approve this plan or the County would have lost two million dollars in funding. Since the start of the 911 Center in 2014, the original estimate of cost was $3.9 million. That has now doubled to $8.4 million. If elected I will fix this problem!! Once faults are identified, we must organize the center for the safety of everyone.
Please discuss one or two things the county should do to save taxpayer money or to better utilize the existing budget.
I WILL talk to each department head to see what their requirements are to safely and efficiently accomplish their job. With a proposed $159 million budget to fund 33 departments, comprised of 1,300 employees, being a responsible commissioner is an enormous task. An in-depth cost analysis of each department is paramount. St. Joseph County is 461 square miles, with a population of 269,000, fifth-largest in the State of Indiana. I truly believe that spending taxpayer money wisely is the key to responsible and efficient government. In light of the current COVID-19 issue, we have to be very diligent on how the county spends money. Perhaps even examining tax breaks for the citizens. St Joseph County needs an economic plan for recovery immediately. I will work on that plan if elected. My thoughts to the entire county during these tough times, we will prevail. I guar
Who should pick up your leaves?
Leaf pickup in the community has been controversial since its inception decades ago. Whether it was done by county workers or by individually contracted companies, many people were not satisfied. The underlying theme for complaints dealt with not picking up leaves at the time the customer desired. The driving factor for this was inclement weather and late leaf fall which caused a delay in scheduled pickup.
In St. Joseph County District 2, 80% of the voters live in South Bend, which handles their own residential leaf pickup. Other towns within District 2 such as Lakeville, New Carlisle, North Liberty, and Walkerton do the same. Based on the number of residents that require service, and the complaints about scheduled pickup, St Joseph county residents that require leaf service should schedule their own individual leaf pickup when needed directly with the leaf pickup provider of their choice. Another alternative is to have neighborhood HOA’s pay for the service or contract within their own communities and charge members accordingly. In turn, taxpayers should see equitable savings on their future taxes.