Commissioner race pits current firefighter vs. retired firefighter

Leon Hurlburt (left) and Rob Miller.
Leon Hurlburt (left) and Rob Miller. Photos provided.

A retired firefighter and a current member of the Huntington Fire Department are both seeking to become the Republican nominee for the first district seat on the Huntington County Board of Commissioners.

The primary election will be held on May 6.

Leon Hurlburt, currently an assistant chief with the HFD, is the incumbent, having served as a county commissioner since 2011. He also served as Huntington County coroner from 2004 to 2010.

Rob Miller, who retired from the fire department in 2013, previously served four years as a member of the Huntington County Council. He is currently the youth sports director at the Parkview Huntington Family YMCA.

The first district commissioner must be a resident of that district - which includes Clear Creek, Warren, Dallas and Jackson townships - but all residents of Huntington County are eligible to vote for the representative.

The board of commissioners oversees the day-to-day operations of the county. Specifically, the commissioners are responsible for maintaining county roads, the courthouse and the jail; setting policies for county employees; and rezoning properties.

The commissioners also authorize payment of bills, sign contracts, appoint board members and department heads and oversee solid waste disposal.

The commissioners adopt ordinances regulating behavior, including traffic control and minimum housing standards.
Hurlburt earned a Bachelor of Science in finance from Ball State University in 1981.

He is co-president of the Youth Services Bureau and serves on the boards of the United Way, Free Clinic, 4-H Fair and combined dispatch. He also serves on the Huntington North High School Improvement Committee, Suicide Prevention Task Force, Northeast Regional Partnership, Local Emergency Planning Committee, Homeland Security District 3 Planning Council, LACE committee and Huntington County Economic Development.

A lifelong Huntington County resident, Miller served as a firefighter for 30 years, including eight as chief. As a county council member, he was involved with the Region 3A Economic Development Committee and the Emergency Management Agency advisory board. He has also served on the United Way executive board and was a volunteer coach at the YMCA for 10 years.

Each candidate was asked, "Why are you seeking, or seeking to retain, this office? If you are elected, what do you hope to accomplish?"

Here are their answers:

Hurlburt: "I would like to continue as your commissioner because I have a deep, genuine desire to make a difference and will continue to promote economic development for a better quality of life in Huntington County.

"I want to continue fighting against big government by developing a smaller and more efficient government that is responsive to the people.

"I will continue to facilitate ways to reinvent how our government works and promote changes that save tax dollars.

"I have the integrity, vision, and leadership that will move our community forward. The core foundation of government is to represent the people.

"As commissioner I represent your views and want to be your voice in government. I have no hidden agenda or private goals that I wish to accomplish if elected.

"I will not do anything that will burden taxpayers of this great community. But, at the same time, I will try to provide the best possible services for the lowest possible cost to the taxpayers.

"The number one issue facing Huntington is 1. Jobs 2. Jobs 3. Jobs. Efforts must continue to create an environment that will attract new business and I will continue to strive to bring good paying jobs to Huntington.

"In the last three years there has been over $100 million of new business investment in Huntington. I want another four years to build on these successes.

"I want to keep pushing the completion of the Huntington County Learning Center; this is a collaborative project between community agencies and private industry and is an important project to train, retrain and retain our mature and young workforce with tomorrow's skills.

"Another developing issue is the Plum Tree Wind Farm. I am here to represent the people and I hear their concerns on this issue. We need to look into modifying/revising our wind ordinance to be fair for both participating and non-participating landowners. I am not in favor of moving forward with wind farms with the current ordinance.

"I want to concentrate on combining services such as the combined city and county dispatch to save money and enhance efficiency."

Miller: "I have been a citizen of Huntington County my entire life. My wife, Debra, and I have four children and seven grandchildren. I have served on the Huntington Fire Department, Huntington County Council, Region 3A Economic Development Committee and the EMA advisory board.

"Currently, I am the director of youth sports at the Parkview Huntington Family YMCA working with more than 1,000 children and their families. This involvement has given me a unique insight into the challenges they face.

"My experience as a leader in government and public safety, collaborating with various community agencies, prioritizing needs, and making critical decisions gives me the skills and expertise to be effective in the commissioner's role.

"Local government is without question the most efficient and best form of government. Working in a small community allows local officials the unique opportunity to be in tune with the needs of the people we serve.

"My ability to listen, bring people together as a team, build partnerships and ultimately find solutions through best practices are my strengths.

"Giving back to my community is very important to me.
"I have found it is important to continuously strive for a strong community infrastructure to attract industry, business, and jobs in order to maintain a high quality of life.

"Stimulating economic growth, to me, is the most important issue. A community must continue to grow to maintain a high quality of life for its residents, and retain and attract skilled workers.

"Retaining existing jobs is important. I'll work to strengthen relationships with existing companies, local business, and stakeholders.

"Forging community partnerships and relationships, built on trust, is key to progress in our community.
"I'll work with my fellow commissioners to engage with our local organizations and government to assess needs and prioritize investment of resources. This will forge a stronger network of residents committed to a successful community.

"I will bring a new style of leadership, new energy and a new perspective to the role of commissioner.

"I will work with my fellow commissioners to develop a clearly articulated short-term and long-term strategic plan addressing the priorities of Huntington County."