Q&A with Boone County Commissioners Dist. 3 candidates


Republicans Barry Dircks, Scott Pell, and Jeff Wolfe are running in the May 7 primary election for Boone County Commissioners District 3 seat. There are no Democratic challengers on the primary ballot. The candidates answered the following questions from Current:

Why do you want to run for this office?

Dircks: I want to preserve Boone County for future generations and not hand it over to big business interests. I also want to have a say in the county’s appointed positions. I look forward to sitting on the Drainage and IT Boards.

Pell: If entrusted with the role of your next Commissioner, my foremost aim is to reintroduce principles of honesty, integrity, and transparency to this esteemed office. It is imperative that we diligently address the pressing concerns of fiscal responsibility, steering clear of unsustainable expenditures that perilously burden our collective financial future. Furthermore, fostering unity amongst our community and advocating for equitable and judicious growth strategies are paramount objectives that demand meticulous planning and execution.

Wolfe: I believe that the work we do on the commissioner board has a very positive impact on the community. We are involved in so many aspects of our local government from maintaining our roads and bridges, our county facilities, or working on a daily basis to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of our local government.

What sets you apart from your opponents?

Dircks: I am not a member of the establishment of Boone County. This is my first time running for political office and I am not soliciting or accepting any donations.

Pell: What sets me apart from my opponents is my intimate familiarity with Boone County, gained through my tenure as a career member of the Boone County Sheriff’s Office. This experience has afforded me a nuanced understanding of our community’s needs and challenges in my daily interactions with residents and business owners. Additionally, I am unyielding in my commitment to prudent decision-making, as evidenced by my willingness to exercise discretion and say no when necessary. I firmly believe that our success hinges on embracing intelligent and meticulously planned growth strategies that respect our community’s boundaries and capacities.

Wolfe: Experience sets me apart, along with my knowledge of how our local government works. I have, after many years serving as commissioner, developed a thorough understanding of how things are done as well as an extensive knowledge of our tax system and how it affects every resident.

What top three issues is your campaign focused on?

Dircks: 1. Rein in wasteful spending and excessive growth; 2. Make Boone County a  Second Amendment sanctuary; 3. Chip seal/pave gravel roads.

Pell: 1. Strategic growth: Implementing prudent and forward-thinking plans for the future within our financial capabilities; 2. Fiscal integrity: Ensuring transparency and honesty in spending, prioritizing genuine needs over wants, and adhering to a fiscal plan without resorting to tax hikes; 3. United Communities: Fostering an environment where Boone County thrives as an affordable and ideal locale for families, without the necessity of increased taxes.

Wolfe: 1. Developing long-term plans for several aspects of local government. Planning for the future of our road system, our facilities and working on updating our County Comprehensive Plan; 2. Working with local agencies and state resources to provide for the mental health needs of our citizens. Mental Health treatment is a priority of our current Justice Center expansion project and I believe it is making a difference in our community with the potential to greatly affect, in a positive way, our recidivism rate; 3. Providing a safe and positive environment for our county employees with an effective benefit package and competitive compensation. Maintaining a strong employee base is paramount to providing the citizens of Boone County with efficient and effective services.

What is the greatest challenge facing the county? How do you plan to address it?

Dircks: LEAP! The state needs to stop destroying our county. We do not have the water for any more growth because of LEAP. I plan to slow down the growth. I also support referendums for all future proposed tax increases and major projects.

Pell: The greatest challenge facing the county lies in the perpetual cycle of escalating taxes and unchecked spending. To confront this challenge, I intend to collaborate closely with fellow commissioners and council members to formulate a comprehensive strategy aimed at reducing our debt burden while keeping tax rates stable. By discerning between essential needs and discretionary wants, we can safeguard Boone County’s affordability and maintain its status as a premier living destination.

Wolfe: The greatest challenge we face today is controlling growth in such a way that protects the quality of life for the citizens of both the urban and rural areas of the county. This is why I suggested we pursue the recently adopted Overlay District with will give the future planning environment of the county an effective toolbox for controlling sprawl into the unincorporated areas. This is also a great first step towards updating our County Comprehensive Plan.

Rising assessed values are quickly increasing property tax bills, making it more unaffordable to move here (or stay here). How do you plan to address this?

Dircks: Not only are property tax bills increasing, but local income taxes have risen because of the jail expansion. I will not support any county projects that will require additional tax increases.

Pell: Addressing the challenge of rising assessed values and escalating property tax bills requires making thoughtful decisions and strategic planning for our community’s future. It’s crucial to keep taxes down while ensuring fiscal responsibility. Additionally, before making major decisions, I believe in engaging with the community to gather feedback and insights. By fostering open dialogue and actively involving residents in the decision-making process, we can ensure that their concerns and perspectives are considered, ultimately contributing to the sustainability and affordability of living in our area.

Wolfe: Assessment rules are set by the state legislature along with the adoption of the valuation handbook used for assessment. Neither the Board of Commissioners, or the county assessor set these parameters, but must we work within the state law for assessment. This is outside of the authority of the County Commissioners.

We live in an increasingly polarized and politically divided state and nation. How will you work to lead and better all Hoosiers – regardless of whether they support you or not?

Dircks: I plan to bring a servant’s mentality to the office. I will work to live stream the meetings of the Boone County Commissioners and hold them in the evenings so more people can be informed and have a voice. I will also work to protect all Hoosier’s water rights.

Pell: In our era of deepening political divisions, fostering unity and progress among all Hoosiers is paramount. I believe in adhering to fundamental principles: open communication, unwavering honesty, and transparent governance. These values serve as the cornerstone of effective leadership and bridge the gap between diverse perspectives. Collaboration with elected officials and citizens alike is essential to our collective advancement. By embracing honesty, transparency, and the equitable consideration of differing viewpoints, we can transcend the prevailing standards and truly unite our community for the betterment of all Boone County residents.

Wolfe: The formula is simple: We must treat all citizens the same. I believe if you were to speak with folks of other parties here in Boone County that they will tell you that I am always open to opposing ideas and viewpoints. We are all better off when communication is open to all.

What do you most want voters to know about you?

Dircks: I am a Christian, Constitutionalist and small business owner.

Pell: What I want voters to understand about me is my unwavering commitment to honesty and integrity, even when it’s uncomfortable. I am fully dedicated to steering the county through this period of significant growth. My approach is collaborative—I’m eager to engage with other elected officials and citizens to infuse Boone County with fresh perspectives and innovative solutions. It’s imperative that we diverge from the status quo of incessant taxation and chart a more sustainable course forward.

Wolfe: I am a father and grandfather with most of my immediate and extended family (including my church family) living right here in Boone County, I do what I do to help ensure our county will be a great place for them to live. Mostly because I want them to stay close so my wife and I can enjoy time with them.