Chesterton Tribune



Republicans: Liberty Trustee Beth Underwood challenged by Matt Keiser

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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 questionnaire.

The Tribune 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).

Underwood: The 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.

Keiser: 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.

For Keiser: 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 position.

(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 well.

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.

(5) Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate why you believe yourself to be a better candidate (125 words).

Underwood: As 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.

Keiser: In 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)

Underwood: It 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.

Keiser: Improve 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.

Keiser: The 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 when needed.



Posted 4/12/2018





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