QA: Six Clay Township Board candidates vying for 3 seats

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Six people are vying for three spots on the Clay Township Board. Republican incumbents Mary Eckard and Matthew Snyder are seeking re-election, while Republican Paul Hensel – son of former Clay Township Trustee John Hensel – has not held elected office before. Democrats Kevin Patterson, Erin Vahrenkamp and Michael Sweeten are aiming to bring a new voice to the board.

Name: Kevin Patterson

Party: Democrat

Age: 49

Occupation: Senior account executive, Patron Technology

Have you served in an elected office before? If so when and where?

This is my first campaign for elected office. I believe that the best way to make a difference in my community is to get involved.

Why do you want to run for a position in Clay Township?

I am running to promote greater transparency, accessibility, inclusion and ethical government in the township. New voices and ideas are needed as the township continues to grow. The current board lacks the vision or desire to engage with the community, hear diverse opinions and be accountable.

What is the biggest issue facing Clay Township residents?

The biggest issue facing Clay Township residents is the continued development of the township and the impact on its residents. We need to engage with the community to ensure that every citizen has the opportunity to realize the economic and quality of life benefits of living in Clay Township.

What are your campaign platforms?

I believe the Clay Township Board should be more accountable to the community. I would like to see greater accessibility and transparency combined with greater fiscal responsibility that goes beyond just balancing a budget.

What makes you qualified to be elected?

I have experience and expertise in both non-profit and for-profit businesses working with communities and local governments to explore and implement positive outcomes. I am passionate about having a township government that actively engages with the community to promote new ideas that benefit the entire community.

What sets you apart from other candidates?

I will serve on the Clay Township Board and be an active advocate for the community. I believe by proactively engaging in conversations about the issues affecting our community, we can work together to find new and innovative solutions that will make Clay Township a vibrant and sustainable community.

What else do you want voters to know about you?

I believe that government works best when there are fresh ideas and new voices. We need elected officials that represent the future of our community.

 

Name: Paul D. Hensel

Party: Republican

Age: 59

Occupation: Relationship manager for Indiana Members Credit union

Have you served in an elected office before? If so when and where?

No

Why do you want to run for a position in Clay Township?

I wanted get involved in local government. I felt the Clay Township board would be a good place to start. My father John Hensel was Clay Township Trustee for 20 years, so I understand the roles of the Clay Township board.

What is the biggest issue facing Clay Township residents?

One of the biggest issues in Clay Township is the fire protection. With all the growth in Clay Township, how do we maintain a first class fire department with the proper equipment needed to protect Clay Township?

What are your campaign platforms?

My platform is to focus on three areas of the township: Fire protection, assistance and parks

What makes you qualified to be elected?

I understand finances and I listen to the community concerns.

What sets you apart from other candidates?

I have seen Clay Township grow from a rural community to the community it is today. I understand what it is going to need in the future to be a great community.

What else do you want voters to know about you?

I was born and raised here in Clay Township. I am the fourth generation to live at my current residence. My father was the former Clay Township Trustee and my mother was the clerk. She then was appointed trustee to finish out my father’s term when he passed away.

 

Name: Erin Vahrenkamp

Party: Democrat

Age: 42

Occupation: Instructional design consultant

Have you served in an elected office before? If so when and where?

No, I am a first-time candidate.

Why do you want to run for a position in Clay Township?

I’m running because we need new voices, new ideas and new leadership in Clay Township. Carmel has become larger and more diverse, and our elected officials are not effectively representing all of our perspectives. I believe that government best serves the people when it is accessible, inclusive, transparent, ethical and efficient.

What is the biggest issue facing Clay Township residents?

One major issue is a lack of trust in government, resulting in low participation. Elected officials must reach out to citizens: explaining what the government does, the services it provides and how it spends taxpayer money. We already have the means to address this—we only need the will.

What are your campaign platforms?

If elected, I will work hard to:

  • Explore new ways to keep citizens informed
  • Restore the township assistance program
  • Appoint diverse voices to Carmel Clay Parks & Rec and the TriCo Regional Waste District boards
  • Build relationships across public and private entities to coordinate services and save money

What makes you qualified to be elected?

As a consultant, I’m used to being thrown into a new organization and having to get quickly up to speed. I’m skilled at analyzing issues, creating solutions and executing on a plan, as well as building consensus among opposing views—all of which are important qualities in a public servant.

What sets you apart from other candidates?

  • I’m a working mom of two school-aged children and understand challenges faced by working families
  • I do not have any conflicts of interest and will not personally benefit from any government contracts
  • I have lived in several areas of the U.S. and have experienced what makes a community successful (or not)

What else do you want voters to know about you?

If I win a seat on the township board, I will not sit back and embrace the status quo. I’m ready to listen to residents’ concerns and work to create positive change.

 

Name: Matthew J. Snyder

Party: Republican

Age: 36

Occupation: Engineering

Have you served in an elected office before? If so when and where?

Yes, Clay Township Board

Why do you want to run for a position in Clay Township?

To continue providing the services required of the township. The last four years have proven that our board has been conservative, yet forward thinking. We have been able to build three new public safety facilities without impact on the taxpayer. We continue to do the same with the parks department.

What is the biggest issue facing Clay Township residents?

The township’s role has been fast changing over the last decade. We have become, among our other responsibilities, a supplement to the city. While the city continues its focus on infrastructure, development and protection, the township has helped pick up the slack with the fire department and the parks department, creating a safe and exceptional place to live.

What are your campaign platforms?

Combining the virtues of fiscal and social responsibility.

Enhancing and maintaining our parks and recreation department, rated No. 1 in the nation by every metric.

Enhancing and maintaining our fire department, also rated number 1 in the nation by every metric.

What makes you qualified to be elected?

The township is a unique form of government. It is the closest government to the people. As a lifelong resident of Clay Township I have been able to grow with the community and have the life experience as well as the professional experience to continue to Keep Clay Township Great!

What sets you apart from other candidates?

I was born and raised right here in Clay Township. I have gone through Carmel schools, purchased property and am raising a family. More than anyone else, I can call Carmel Clay Township ‘My Forever Home!’ and I have the drive and experience to assist in continuing Carmel Clay’s greatness.

What else do you want voters to know about you?

I am truly humbled by all the people that have supported me over the years. Of course, mom and dad, being my first (along with Fred and Jim). I am equally blessed to have a wife, Ashlee, that stands by me (along with our daughter Charlie). However things turnout, I thank the residents of Clay Township for allowing me to serve you!

 

Name: Michael Sweeten

Party: Democrat

Age: 72

Occupation: Retired

Have you served in an elected office before? If so when and where?

This is my first candidacy. mikeforclaytownship.com

Why do you want to run for a position in Clay Township?

To contribute to my community. I have a history of service. Big Brother, Little League coach, soccer coach, host of foreign exchange students and member of a credit union board of directors, are some of the ways I have contributed in the past.

What is the biggest issue facing Clay Township residents?

The fiscal responsibility of the board. The budget process is not readily transparent to the average resident. There is a lack of clarity in rationale behind certain budget items. In addition, board appointees should be free of potential conflict of interests.

What are your campaign platforms?

My number one priority is to be a responsible manager of your tax dollars.

What makes you qualified to be elected?

My education (MEd.), my work experience (social worker, educato, and sales manager), and my volunteer work should check the boxes of a candidate qualified for this office. As important, I believe in an open democratic process and vow to be your representative on the board.

What sets you apart from other candidates?

My opponents are establishment candidates. As an outsider, I can not be beholden to any interests other than those of the residents of Clay Township.

What else do you want voters to know about you?

Two things. My family has a history of military service: My father (WW II), me (Vietnam), my son (Iraq) and my brother (Air Force). Also, I am a member of Carmel Creative Writers, Inc. A short story of mine is included in our recently published anthology.

 

Name: Mary Eckard

Party: Republican

Occupation: Author of a new book on Amazon, “Take Your Stage”; healthcare advocate

Have you served in an elected office before? If so when and where? 

I was elected to the Clay Township Board in 1998 and am running for re-election. It is the only elected office I’ve ever held.

Why do you want to run for a position in Clay Township?

I feel I was elected to be a watchdog for the people of Clay Township on many issues. These include Township services that affect taxes, land values, poor relief and the quality of life. In my original campaign for the township board, I promised a fiscally responsible approach to township government and have stayed consistent with that.

What is the biggest issue facing Clay Township residents?

The possible merger of township government with the City of Carmel government and making sure before that happens that all services provided by township government will be fulfilled by the City of Carmel.

What are your campaign platforms?

Through the years, the township has entrusted me with this role and I have consistently applied these questions to my decisions in making strategic decisions.

“Why is this important? Is it important to the people I serve?”

“Is it the right thing to do?”

“Does it help people and the community?”

“Is it the best thing to move the community forward?”

What makes you qualified to be elected?

I am serving this community currently as a township board member and understand what lies ahead for township government. We live in a lively, growing area and I want to continue representing the public by helping to manage Clay Township government during the changes.

What sets you apart from other candidates?

I’ve been endorsed by the Carmel Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 4444 and it means so much to Me, because the board has worked with the fire department in financing the remodeling of one fire station, building another and of building a training center for the firefighters to use. We also purchased tiller truck to service high rise buildings.

What else do you want voters to know about you?

I have loved representing Clay Township on the township board and have worked very hard for them and am working to establish a higher education initiative to develop a learning park.

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