*Interview with Marla Irving, April 2nd, 2006*
Marla Irving is running for re-election. Marla is currently the second district representative to the county board of commissioners. Marla has served in that capacity since August of 2000. Bill Brown is challenging Marla Irving in The Republican Primary for the position of Allen County Commissioner.
The local press has made a big deal about the fact that all seven members of the Allen County Council, State Rep. Borror, and State Senator Wyss are co-hosting a fundraiser for challenger Bill Brown. I agree that it certainly is unheard of; The Allen County GOP always supports their incumbents.
I decided to contact Bill Brown and Marla Irving to determine for myself what was transpiring. I have spoken to several local Republicans about this issue as well. To date, Bill Brown has not responded to my request for an interview; however, Marla Irving did consent to an interview that I conducted on April 2nd, 2006.
Interview (Marla’s responses are listed below my questions and are paraphrased in italics)
Consolidation is a large issue, especially with the recent passage of HR1362 (A bill passed in Indianapolis that will allow some local government consolidation). Where do you stand on consolidation Marla?
I do not think we should consolidate just to consolidate. I believe that we should reorganize those services where there is a savings to the taxpayers. I look at statistics and comparisons and I ask the professionals in charge of the related County and City Departments for their professional opinion on an issue by issue basis.
I feel that I have been very open to consolidation. I feel that the County has been a leading force in favor of consolidating certain functions and that the County is waiting on Fort Wayne to respond to The County’s proposals.
Example of consolidation Marla does not favor:
911 Service. I feel that the Sheriff has jurisdiction over 911 services. I do not feel that there will be a cost savings associated with this merger after consulting with the Department Heads that currently oversee these operations for both the City and County. I also think that it might be worth looking at the way Marion County handles their 911 center. In Marion County the Fire Department has a 911 service that works hand in hand with a 911 service for the police.
Examples of consolidation Marla does favor:
Technology services. I proposed combining the City technology services and the County technology services in February of 2005. I feel this will save the taxpayers $300,000 per year. The City is still analyzing the proposal; they have been analyzing it for over a year.
Land use. I feel that there should be “one stop” for residents to resolve land use issues. I feel that we should keep both The City Planning Commission and the Country Planning Commission until we can adopt one code.
Please tell me about one of your plans or proposals that might result in the taxpayers being better served?
One of my ideas that has not got a lot of coverage in the local press involves considering “Taxing Districts.” Currently, there are two major taxing districts; the City and the County. We may want to consider taxing districts that are instead urban, suburban, and rural. Those residents who receive all city services would be considered urban and taxed at one level. Those residents who receive a moderate level of service would be considered suburban and would be charged a more moderate tax rate. Rural residents that receive the fewest services would be classified under as rural and taxed at the lowest rate.
Does everyone fit into three classifications? Could there for four or more classifications?
Possibly, we would have to investigate that further.
There is a lot of talk about building a new baseball stadium downtown. Are you in favor of building a new baseball stadium downtown?
I am part of the committee exploring the possibility. We have split up into three teams. One team is exploring the location of a new stadium, one team is looking into the specifics and amenities of a new stadium, and one team is looking at what we would use the existing Memorial Stadium for. We expect to have a recommendation completed by July 1st, 2006. I have not reached a decision yet; I want to evaluate more information before I come to a conclusion.
Revitalizing downtown is a constant “hot topic” in Fort Wayne. Where do you stand on this issue?
I do want to revitalize downtown; however, The County does not have jurisdiction. We need to draw private investment to downtown; the taxpayers cannot be held responsible for all of the investment that is needed.
Why do you think that you are being labeled as an “obstructionist?”
I am not entirely sure. I am not an obstructionist. I have started many initiatives that would consolidate certain local government functions. I have an aggressive personality and I am willing to stand up for what I believe in.
Much has been made about you excluding members of The County Council from the upcoming meeting between The County Commissioners and The City Council. Paula Hughes has been especially vocal on this topic.
I think that the legislative bodies of both the City and the County need to get together and discuss consolidation. The legislative (Law making) body of the County is the County Commissioners and it is the City Council for the City. The public will be invited and I would certainly expect many other elected officials to attend and participate. I am not excluding anyone; it will be a public meeting and I hope that the meeting is well attended.
Are there any other reasons that you think that you have been “targeted” by certain local groups?
Politics are about money and authority. Any consolidation talks involve both money and authority. Certain factions in The City will only favor consolidation if the City is in charge; the same can be said of the County. There are certain groups who want the City to be in charge of any consolidation that occurs. These groups want to see me defeated. I believe that the County should be the leading party in consolidation.
I have a lot of local groups that support me and who are vocal in my defense. Tom Kelly is hosting a fundraiser for me April 11th that will be very well attended and includes many prominent local Republicans. The supporters of Smith field are in my camp; I have supported Smith Field and I will continue to support Smith Field. I am very accessible and I have done my best to help my constituents as best I can. I do not trumpet The Republicans who support me.
Is there anything else you would like to ad?
· I do not want to see Republicans pitted against Republicans. I support The Republican
Party and I want to make sure that this race is about specific issues.
· I am more then happy to debate Bill Brown. I have contacted The Fort Wayne Chamber
with a firm date. The last time I talked to them I was the only candidate to do so.
· I am not sure why we would need to add nine 911 dispatchers to cover Aboite.
· I have spent most of my life living outside of The City, often in a rural setting. I feel that
I do a very good job of representing my constituents.
That concludes the interview. I enjoyed talking with Marla Irving and I look forward to watching the Republican race for County Commissioner.
Candidate for Northwest Allen County School Board
Chairman of The Libertarian Party of Allen County