Chesterton Tribune



Democrat Scot McCord a veteran of the Utility board seeks Town Council seat

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Republican Nate Cobbs wants to pitch in put skills to use on Town Council



Scot McCord’s name is well known to a lot of folks who, as he did, grew up in Chesterton. It’s probably just as well known to folks who, over the years, have followed the doings of the Utility Service Board and the Park Board.

McCord has served on both and he’s sat on the Utility Service Board twice, in fact continues to serve on it, and since his second appointment, in 2000, McCord’s been a key player in a number of high-profile Utility initiatives: the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant, the implementation of the federally mandated long term control plan to reduce sewage bypasses, and most recently the Fox Chase Farms project.

Folks who know of McCord, however, may remember him less for his service to the town or his longevity--something like a quarter of a century as a municipal official--than for a certain reputation he acquired back in the day for shooting from the hip, for being cheerfully outspoken on issues of importance to him. McCord himself admits it, says he did have a way once upon a time of rubbing against the grain. But that was the man he was, not the one he is.

“I’ve matured,” McCord, 61, says. “I’ve raised a family. I have nine grandchildren now. And going through the things I’ve gone through, losing a child, brings you back to reality. I’ve mellowed.”

It’s as a wiser, more weathered man that McCord, a Democrat, is running for the open 4th District seat on the Town Council, from which incumbent Sharon Darnell is stepping down when her term expires at the end of the year. McCord’s Republican opponent: another life-long Chesterton boy, Nathan Cobbs.

A McCord/Cobbs race is almost a demographic clichŽ.

McCord’s collar is deep blue, he works as a union carpenter superintendent for Gariup Construction Company, and he’s been around the block, a couple of times. Cobbs, at 35 nearly a full generation younger than McCord and the father of a 4- and a 6-year-old, wears a white collar, is employed as a trust officer, and he’s just getting his feet wet in community service.

As McCord sees it, the race pits his own experience against Cobbs’ youth and energy. And--McCord is very clear on this--there’s a lot to be said for youth and energy. “I’d be happy to see a young guy get on the council,” he says. “The town is absolutely going to need new blood. If I win I’ll be reaching out to Nate to see which board he’d be interested in serving on. If I win I’ll be trying to recruit other new people too, with new ideas.”

MCord’s interest in a fresh perspective, however, doesn’t at all mean he’s looking to make a break with the current council. His general position is that the direction in which Chesterton is going right now is the right one. “I like the way the town is headed,” he says. “The council has done an excellent job.”

Indeed, there’s no particular vote taken by the incumbent members over the last three years, and no specific policy pursued by them, to which McCord objects. Instead, he’d like to bring to fruition a number of initiatives still hanging fire. Foremost among them: the construction of a brick-and-mortar public restroom in Thomas Centennial Park, a project which lost a bit of momentum when a design submitted to the council came with a $250,000 price tag.

“You have to build it tough because of vandals,” McCord says. “That’s why it costs so much. But still, we can do something more downscale from the plan submitted.”

For years too it’s been a perennial lament even among--especially among--council members: the meager budget which the Park Department has to make do with, given the huge chunks of meat so often sliced from it by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance. “I would like to increase the park budget and not have it cut,” McCord says. How exactly he might do that is unclear, although McCord thinks there might be a way to get particular park projects funded by means of grants and low-interest bonds.

And there’s something else: McCord wants to give municipal employees a raise. “We have to find a way to take care of our employees,” he says. “If we don’t, we’re going to lose them to the general work force. ‘I’ve got a great benefits package but I can’t afford to eat.’ That’s not right. There’s got to be a way financially to do that.”

If any single principle has guided McCord over his municipal career, it would be this one: the whole point of town government is to promote and enhance the qualify of life which residents enjoy in Chesterton. “We have a low crime rate,” he says. “We have excellent public schools. Very friendly people. A diverse range of places to shop and eat. There are lots of different things to do in this community.”

And so far as McCord is concerned, the best way to promote and enhance quality of life is through an intelligent program of economic development. The Ind. 49 utility corridor, he says--whose planning McCord had a hand in--is intended to open Ind. 49 south of the Indiana Toll Road to the sorts of industry and commerce which, like Urschel Laboratories Inc., infuse a community with hope, options, and disposable income. “The business growth will be along Ind. 49 and the Downtown area will stay the same. It’s not like we’re going to build shopping centers. We’re talking about higher paying, clean-industry jobs.”

McCord is aware of resistance in some quarters to economic development and a fear of unintended consequences: a swelling population, strained services, traffic. Those concerns he largely rejects. A rising tide floats all boats, he says, at least it does the boats of those raising families, paying mortgages, and looking to improve their lot. Naysayers are “people who already made their money or who work in Chicago or who retired from the mill and are reaping the benefits. If it hadn’t been for the town expanding, I wouldn’t have been able to make a living.”

Chesterton’s been good to him, McCord says. And he sees no reason why, under the Town Council’s tending, it shouldn’t be just as good to the next generation. “I grew up in Chesterton,” he says. “I grew up on 15th Street. My family moved here in 1954. I started mowing lawns when I was 8 years old. I’m a lifer. I raised my family here. And I want it to stay a great and safe place for my son and his wife to raise my grandchildren. I just love this community.”



Posted 10/16/2015




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