County Elections, Policy, Culture

BCLN Concept Slide 2

Updated: May 6, 2022

2022 County Elections. Democrats choosing a Republican ballot in the primary contributed to the upset victory by Ron Sanders over Diana Biddle in the primary for Commissioner, District 2.  Sanders lost by around 500 votes in the last primary and won by more than 200 votes in this primary.

This change in the primary – if it can be successfully sustained, provides needed competition. Anyone that votes in two primaries for the same party is also eligible to run as a candidate. Given the county voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020 and the effects of the current administration on our economy, culture, and security, unlikely the county will turn “blue” anytime soon.

Sanders will face Stephanie Kritzer (D) and possibly an independent (s) in the general election.  The core leadership in the local Republican party has also been reported to be attempting to recruit an independent candidate to run against Sanders. This indicates that like previous successful candidates that were not endorsed by the core leadership, if elected in the general, Sanders may face challenges from the local party.  I am not aware that the party or Diana Biddle has congratulated Sanders on his primary victory and will support him in the general.

The action by the core leadership to include undermining their own candidates, contribute to a culture of Fear in the county to “go along to get along” or “else” risk real or perceived retaliation such as “canceling.”   This leads to the selection of elected and appointed officials that rarely if ever challenge the status quo and do what is right on behalf of all citizens and not just the special interests.

A one-party monopoly on political power always leads to an abuse of power and corruption of the system. The effect is that individuals working in the system lose the ability to tell right from wrong. Some even delude themselves that they can improve the system through their individual capabilities.  When you put good people in a bad system, the system wins most if not all of the time. It is up to the voters to change the system.  Methods and tools that can be applied to support this aim are provided through the Brown County Leader Network.

A “label” for a political party can be nothing more than a fascade to accumulate , and abuse power. Power is corruptiing and can be more powerful than any drug. Not too difficult to identify the addicted by their behavior – bullying, retaliation, name calling, use of fear, decisions that benefit the few at the expense of the many.  Antidotes include are transparency and a balance of power.

Evidence of the political agenda that benefits the special interests includes those that personally benefit from development. This includes advocacy for strategies to expand sewers to areas without evidence of need such as in Bean Blossom. Other strategies include increasing the cost of government through actions that support a “Spend, Tax and Borrow “ policy.  This along with inflated land and home values leads to higher taxes that contribute to a higher cost of living. The higher cost of living contributes to gentrification. Genetrificam is the situation where those residents in the low to moderate income level (53.1% of our population) are replaced by the more affluent.

The Sleeping Giant?  Ironically, the majority (80+% percenters) that are financing the cost of government are choosing to remain silent or ignorant, represent the proverbial “sleeping giant”.  An economic analysis by Ball State University identified Brown County as a “bedroom community” with tourism. Another phrase could be those that choose country living and accept the occasional disruptions caused by tourism.

The majority of taxable income (over 80%) is derived from residents that choose “country living” but derive their income from sources outside the county. This includes residents that commute outside the county for the higher-paying jobs (or can work from home), and those that chose to retire to Brown County.  The county is primarily funded by income and property tax.  The county now relies on increases in property tax and borrowing to fund the cost of government services.  To reinforce, the economic engine for Brown County IS NOT TOURISM.

    • The State is funded by Income and Sales tax. The state subsidizes the tourims industry by allowing a 5% innkeepers tax that has to be used to support more tourism.  Tourism benefits the State and business owners – many of whom do not live in the county and pay income tax.  Unlike residents whose propoerty can be assessed ever year and are subject to higher propoerty taxes, tourism businesses are assesed less frequently. The requirment for assessments is at least once every four years.

Unwanted and needed development, higher cost of living,  and over-tourism that disrupt “country living” can lead to significant economic and cultural change.  Andy Rogers reinforced this point” : “We don’t need to be slick and highly commercial. We need to be more country. Country is what we sell…. We need to maintain that. Once you destroy that, it won’t come back.”

In 2019, 7,126 residents reported adjusted gross (taxable) income of $425 million dollars. A study in 2017 by Rockport Analytics identified that tourism accounted for 636 jobs and $12.2 million in wages and proprietor income.  The average weekly wage in Brown County is lowest in the State.

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