In the primary
election on Tuesday, May 8, incumbent Beth Underwood will face challenger
Matt Keiser for the Republican nomination for Liberty Township Trustee. The
Chesterton Tribune invited both to respond to a candidate
set word limits for each question and reserved the right to edit for length.
(1) For Underwood:
Age, terms in office: 51, two terms.
For Keiser: Age and
occupation: 47, office director.
(2) Describe the
Liberty Township Trustee’s responsibilities (75 words).
Trustee’s Office assists citizens within the township that experience
financial hardship. We assist with rental, utility, and food as long as they
fall within the guidelines. We also help with some medications depending on
circumstance; contract with the Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department
to provide fire protection; and help find housing for the homeless and the
less fortunate. The Trustee’s Office also maintains the cemeteries in the
township as well.
Providing emergency assistance to those in need is a major component of the
Trustee’s Office. Another important role is contracting fire services for
the Township and purchasing fire equipment. Maintaining parks and cemeteries
also falls under the purview of the Trustee’s Office. As a public official,
the Trustee should maintain and provide access to all public documents.
(3) For Underwood:
Describe your achievements in office (75 words): I am available seven
days a week 24 hours a day for whatever citizens may need and in the office
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. I also hold a monthly workshop to
help with citizens’ budgeting needs or unemployment searches. I have helped
41 individuals find employment and numerous people budget their finances to
be able to survive without the township’s assistance.
Describe your qualifications for office (75 words): I believe that being
a lifelong Duneland resident and an 18-year township resident has allowed me
to understand my community and provide perspective. This coupled with my
career in civil engineering has allowed me to gain work experience,
cultivate public and private sector relationships, serve on numerous local
boards and commissions, and achieve understanding in dealing with the
public. As a current office director, I am responsible for overseeing
employees, maintaining the budget and expenditures, managing projects, and
dealing with clients. All of these skills are applicable to the Trustee’s
(4) For Underwood:
Why are you seeking re-election? (75 words): I am seeking re-election
because it has become my No. 1 priority to provide assistance to the
citizens of the township. And I strive hard to work hand-and-hand with our
volunteer fire department to be able to update our fire station that is in
desperate need of updates. The township is a place I love to live. I am a
lifelong resident with many family members residing within the township as
For Keiser: Why are
you seeking election to this office? (75 words): I am seeking the
Trustee’s position because I believe that I can help bring consequential and
immediate improvement to the office just by incorporating some basic
changes. I also believe that my civil engineering experience will be
valuable as decisions are made regarding the needs for either a new or
expanded fire station. I believe establishing good relationships with
residents, Liberty Schools, Liberty Rec, and Porter County is essential to
the success of the township.
yourself from your opponent and indicate why you believe yourself to be a
better candidate (125 words).
far as my opposing candidate I am not real familiar with him or what his
intentions are or his thoughts on how he could make a difference in
comparison to what I have achieved over the last eight years.
addition to being available 24/7 to the residents, I will utilize
technology. Finding contact information for the Trustee’s office is
difficult--nothing is posted at the Trustee’s Office and there isn’t a
website. Once a resident finds the phone number, they must call to discuss
eligibility requirements for assistance and then meet to get an application.
With a website, these steps could be eliminated and only oblige residents to
meet with the Trustee once the application has been completed. Contact
information, office hours, meeting agendas, and minutes will also be
accessible. Furthermore I will incorporate a state-approved accounting
software so that the books are not being done by hand. My vision for “Moving
Liberty Township Forward” is not limited to just these changes.
(6) What are the
key issues in this race? (125 words)
is key to me to continue to provide the financial relief to the citizens of
the township and budget the taxpayers’ money to the best of my ability to
provide the safest fire protection within the township.
services: Establishing regular, posted office hours would provide residents
with consistent days/times that the Trustee’s Office will be open. Township
staff will live locally not hours away. Creating a website providing contact
information, eligibility requirements, and assistance application.
Collaborate with the Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department to either
expand or build a new station. My background will be helpful in determining
which alternative is best. Exploring grant opportunities is also a
necessity. Improve communication: Liberty Rec is an important asset to the
township, and I want to strengthen our relationship with them. Cultivating a
Facebook page will allow the Trustee’s Office to connect with residents and
create a way to implement and promote community events such as a
community-wide garage sale.
(7) Critics of
Indiana’s township trustee system call it an inefficient or wasteful use of
tax dollars. Discuss the value of the office of township trustee, as you see
it (75 words).
Underwood: I do
not think this is a wasteful process of tax payers’ money for the simple
fact anyone can fall into to hardship and there should be a support system
with knowledge to assist and direct the citizens to the available resources
to help them through until they can seek new employment, continued
employment, or a resolution to what they maybe experiencing.
township trustee’s office adds value because it is an immediate way for
residents who need emergency financial assistance to seek help. Dealing
directly with the Trustee allows a faster response time than going through
the county. Another value added benefit of the township trustee is that
since most of Liberty Township is unincorporated, the Trustee can represent
the “voice” of the residents and mediate on their behalf to county officials