Voters in Hancock County will have a choice in the Republican Primary for County Commissioner District 3 this season between two candidates well versed in law enforcement.
Matt Holland, of the Greenfield Police Department, is going against Bill Spalding, a veteran with the Indiana State Police, to see who will represent District 3, which consists of Blue River, Brandywine and Sugar Creek townships. Brad Armstrong, the incumbent, opted not to run for re-election.
If campaigning in a normal world is tough, both candidates admit the COVID-19 global pandemic has only made things tougher.
Holland told Giant FM, in past campaigns, he was able to rely on going to meetings to talk with voters, go door to door and debate his opponents.
“All of these methods are pretty non-existent during this campaign. Therefore, I have leaned heavily on social media outreach, door hangers and yard signs. However, what the pandemic has effected even more so is the priorities that we will be facing, if elected. The top priority for me is now to help get citizens back to work and to do this in a way that is safe and healthy,” Holland said.
Spalding echoed those sentiments.
“Where once “meet and greets,” in-person fundraisers and talking with the public face to face were the norm, we have been forced to take different approaches like using social media platforms to get the word out,” Spalding told Giant FM.
With a tougher primary to wade through due to the pandemic, both candidates have a clear message to voters, which is to get out and vote.
“My message to voters is to find a way to vote. Don’t take for granted the powerful right to vote and select the person that represents you in government. If you don’t want to be exposed to health concerns, then please request an absentee ballot. I just encourage the voters to research their candidate’s platform and choose who they believe is best suited to represent them and to be their voice,” Holland told Giant FM.
Spalding said his message is to vote in accordance with the state’s plans.
“If you would still like to vote in person, you can, during early voting until June 1 or by voting on June 2, Primary Day,” Spalding said.
Both candidates are quite familiar, however, with the process of running for office and admit they have learned from prior attempts to seek office.
Spalding told Giant FM this campaign has allowed him an opportunity to assess his last campaign.
“As a first responder, I get an up-close view of our mental health problems. I’m concerned about the lack of mental health resources available to people in need. As part of my approach for providing for public safety throughout the county, addressing mental health must be a part of the solution,” Spalding said.
Holland, who ran in 2016, said his prior run helps by allowing him to know what to expect and build relationships with people he met four years ago.
“I have always been heavily involved in helping the community through sitting on multiple boards and collaborating with many community organizations for the past several years. This is something that I just enjoy doing and comes natural and genuinely for me. It helps because people know that I have been involved for many years because that is just who I am. I didn’t just become involved during campaign seasons,” said Holland, who has served on the Sugar Creek Township Board for over five years.
Mental illness and the possible creation of a Veteran Court have been issues discussed in recent months and years.
Both candidates acknowledge they will advocate for those impacted by mental illness.
“I will ensure that the programs that are being proposed at the county level stay on course and are implemented,” Holland said.
Spalding told Giant FM he met with Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton to get his “expert opinion” on a veteran’s court.
“It is believed that, without creating more government, we can still help veterans through our existing special court working in conjunction with the Veteran’s Administration. Like veterans with mental health problems, many other people suffer with mental issues. Traditional incarceration is likely not the best solution, therefore, we must make available non-traditional programs and long-term therapy options. Access to this type of early intervention will cost the county less in the long run,” Spalding told Giant FM.
In addition to mental health, the two say there are also plenty of issues facing Hancock County.
Holland said it is important to help being a catalyst and not a barrier to get through the COVID-19 pandemic and help citizens and businesses get back to work.
“Completing ongoing road improvement projects, healthy and positive economic development, ensuring the new jail construction project stays on time and within budget, improving mental health accessibility and revisiting requirements for tax abatements are the priorities that I am most concerned about. All of these are priorities that need equal attention to keep Hancock County moving in a positive direction,” Holland said.
For Spalding, the addition of another court to help ease caseloads is one of the biggest issues he sees.
“Currently, there are three judges that serve. As the county continues to grow, there will, likely, be a future need to request from the General Assembly permission to create an additional court,” he said.
And, both men believe they are the right one for the job, pointing to experience as the reason why voters should vote for them.
“I am the only candidate for Hancock County Commissioner in District 3 that has experience serving in a local, governing position. Sugar Creek Township has top of the line fire service employees, equipment and facilities all while maintaining fiscal responsibility, having become completely debt free in 2020,” Holland said.
Holland told Giant FM Sugar Creek Township recently completed a new fire station by paying cash and not taking on additional debt.
“This station was completed on time and under budget. I plan to bring this type of fiscal conservatism to the Board of Commissioners. I am genuinely involved in the community and have been for at least the past 12 years and will continue to e. I haven’t just shown up during campaign times in order to try and win an election,” Holland said.
Spalding told Giant FM he has a vision for a “vibrant and growing Hancock County.”
“I have strong relationship-building skills. I have experience managing property and people. I have been the chairman of church property at Zion Lutheran Church and School for the last four years, a $1.5 million property. I understand aspects of maintaining and building facilities, dealing with budgets, contracts and insurance, and cooperating with others. I’ve also been a squad leader for 18 years with the Indiana State Police and have the ability to manage people, resources and ideas well. I believe through wisdom, understanding and discernment, I can provide sound, thoughtful government to the people of Hancock County,” Spalding told Giant FM.