In a three-man primary race for Bartholomew County Council, Greg Patterson defeated incumbent Scott Bonnell and fellow Republican Dave London to win his party’s nomination to represent District 1 on the Bartholomew County Council.
This fall, Patterson is being challenged by Democrat Joshua “Shua” Cobb, who spent most of his childhood in the Columbus area, lived in communities outside of Indiana for several years, and eventually returned to Bartholomew County.
In the following interviews, they discussed why they are seeking a county council seat.
Q: What do you think about the wage study received last March that showed many salaries and benefits for local county employees are below the average earnings of a comparable worker in another Indiana county?
Patterson: I think the study was thorough and many of our employees are underpaid so we have to be competitive. I also know that, many times, it costs more to hire new employees than to keep the current staff.
Cobb: I saw the council talking about this. One thing that struck me was that there were a lot of people going to Bartholomew County. Travelers bring additional trade and we want people to continue to live and work here, so it boosts our economy. I have no idea why there is any hesitation in trying to implement the recommendations, especially with the current job market.
Q: For several years, local government has come under fire for hiring consultants. Do you think this is a valid review?
Patterson: I think it’s money well spent. I’m all for hiring a consultant if she’s an expert in a field we need to research. Let’s take the salary study as an example. There was no one in the county who was going to give a fair and objective view that compares all salaries with the same positions in other counties. So it was better to spend money to hire a company to do this outside work.
Cobb: There are areas where board members are not subject matter experts. But some council members don’t want this neutral third party to faithfully reflect how things could be. When you don’t ask for additional guidance, you may be leaning on corner offers and rejections. We have to be very transparent and make sure there is no conflict of interest. Consultants help us do this.
Q: There is about $10 million in reserves (aka the Rainy Day Fund) in Bartholomew County coffers. What should the council do with this money?
Patterson: I would like to see it put away until we have some opportunities (to consider the best place for it.) I know there is some debt (jail bond) that we are considering retiring. If this is the right place to put some of it, that’s fine. But I’m in no rush to get rid of it all.
Cobb: I want to ask each department head if they feel the 2023 budget meets their needs. If so, I want to see what they think needs to be done in other areas. I am not against anything and want to be open to needs. There are many opportunities, especially in affordable housing. My big things are anything related to clean energy, renewables, and educational programs that will result in people trusting technology more than they already do.
Q: Neither you nor your opponent are incumbents. Do you understand how many committees or boards you will be asked to serve on, as well as special events? Can you handle this time commitment?
Patterson: I have read minutes from last year and had conversations that have given me a good understanding of what is involved. And yes, if I have to spend time on it, I will spend time on it.
Cobb: Absolutely. I’ve never been one to rest on my laurels. I’m always doing something else, so this would be a constructive use of whatever free time I had. I would make attending these meetings a priority, but recuse myself from any decision involving my employer.
First name: Greg Patterson (R)
Previous Elected Offices: none
Current Employee: Field Sales Representative for Stewart Seed/Bayer Corp.
Academic training: He was a 1985 graduate of North Decatur High School. He received his bachelor’s degree in communications from Purdue University in 1989.
Community service: Officiating youth sporting events, volunteering for Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief, and serving at his church in various capacities.
Family: Wife, Thecla. Two adult children.
First name: Joshua “Shua” Cobb (D)
Previous Elected Offices: none
Current Employee: Verizon Wireless
Academic training: He graduated from Estero High School near Fort Myers, Florida. He studied telecommunications and marketing.
Community service: She manages a number of public service projects sponsored by her employer, has worked with multiple humane societies and has been involved in community theater.