Rowe hopes to gain seat on County Council | Heraldrepublican

FREMONT — Steuben County Democratic Central Committee Chair Judy Rowe hopes to be the first Democrat to win the District 1 seat on the Steuben County Council since Kenny Crandall served two terms in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

She is facing Republican Christina Cress in the November election.

Here are Rowe’s responses to questions from The Herald Republican.

Top issues facing Steuben County

Steuben County faces numerous challenges. As stewards of public funds, the role of County Council is crucial; the seven members must prioritize which challenges are met, and which problems are kicked down the road to resolve on a different day. For example: The Council knew for a decade that the Courthouse was obsolete, but delayed remedy for as long as possible, while building costs climbed to a historic high. How much money wasted while the Council dithered? A responsible county council doesn’t dodge hard choices.

Affordable housing is a major challenge. In my work as a realtor, I see everyday the struggles of Steuben County families who are forced to either live with family or settle for substandard housing. I feel badly for these folks, and the shortage impacts us all when companies that want to locate here are forced to invest elsewhere. An innovative County Council would look to the recent housing study compiled by the SCEDC, and work with their recommendations.

Steuben County’s dearth of Early Childhood Education affects potential commerce. Lacking affordable childcare options, many women have opted out of the labor force. Either the childcare available is marginal, or the quality programs consume too much of the paycheck to be practical. Employers will locate elsewhere if they can’t engage and retain employees here. An effective County Council will find appropriate partners to develop necessary programs for our residents that also aid in our economic development.

Finally, the biggest threat to a prosperous Steuben County is just emerging. The size of NIPSCO’s pipelines is limiting the continued growth of Steuben County. Fremont has already experienced the pain as planned expansions — both residential and industrial — are put on hold. A proactive County Council would consult and coordinate with NIPSCO, state regulatory agencies, and industry experts to meet this pivotal moment.

How should federal grant dollars be spent?

County government has a history of frittering away financial windfalls. Cases in point: 1) Steuben County boasts a $4 million Event Center that loses money every month. 2) There’s an inoperable, multimillion dollar communications currently stored at the County Airport. 3) Hundreds of thousands of tax dollars have been wasted on consulting firms that make recommendations that are never implemented.

While the County Council attempts to be fiscally responsible, those miserly instincts have cost us dearly in employee retention and waste. For instance, Steuben County is notorious for paying some of the worst wages in the state, creating continuous and costly turnover. Opportunities for growth are routinely passed by for a lack of the will to invest in ourselves. Example: Although the runway of the County Airport is too short for most flights, relocation is stubbornly resisted despite solid plans and proposals. Valuable county properties are neither fully utilized or properly promoted. Dividends are only gained through investment. The federal funds coming to Steuben County should be invested in projects that will yield the highest returns, ie, facilitate countywide growth. We must fund basic services (such as EMS, which is currently understaffed, overworked, dependent on outdated equipment). We must offer quality of life amenities (like multipurpose trails). We must provide life’s necessities (housing), and opportunities (education and competitive wages). By making smart choices, the County Council can make a prosperous Steuben County possible.

What is the top spending issue? The best uses of public money generate the highest ROI for the most people. Investments that facilitate individual opportunity will pay off with an expanded tax base, ultimately lowering taxes for everyone. For that reason, the county should focus spending on those areas where partnerships — with both public and private entities — will maximize our assets and accomplish the most county-wide. Personal information

I arrived in Steuben County (from DeKalb) in the summer of 1984, when my parents needed a bartender at their restaurant (The Lake George Retreat) and I needed a job. At 21 years old, it was the best summer of my life- so I stayed here. My professional experience afterwards consisted of positions in management, sales and advertising. For a decade, I owned/ operated an Angola sign shop. In 2018, I became a real estate broker, licensed in both Indiana and Michigan. My Indiana license is at ReMax Results in Angola.

I lived for a time on Lake George and Crooked Lake before moving to Angola, where I spent the last 21 years. Last December, I purchased a home on Lake Pleasant and discovered that I love the Orland area. I enjoy public service: Prior to my move, I served on the Angola Plan Commission. I continue to serve on the Steuben County Property Tax Board of Appeals and I serve on the Lake Pleasant Association Board of Directors.

My son lives and works in Angola with my three grandchildren, who attend MSD schools and participate in various county activities.