When is the primary?

The Primary is Tuesday, MAY 3, 2011. It is crucial that, whether you are Republican, Democrat, or independent, you let your voice be heard. Grab a Republican ballot and vote for Don!

What do you see as the most pressing challenge to Columbia City for the next four years?

Economic Development.  Without a strong business/manufacturing base our community will not grow and prosper.  Your mayor will represent Columbia City – along with Whitley County officials, the EDC, regional partners and the state of Indiana to attract new companies to our area and to keep those existing companies located in Columbia City and Whitley County.            

In terms of economic development, what would you like to see as the next "big thing" to come the city’s way?

There is no “big thing”.  There is no silver bullet for this opportunity.  Our economic development comes from a series of serious discussions with potential companies locating in Columbia City and Whitley County.  Iotron Corporation is the latest example of the type of companies we can and will attract to our community.  We have a very strong motivated work force which will benefit from the new manufacturing of the 21st century.      

If elected, what would you like to see as your legacy upon completion of your time as mayor?

A ‘legacy’ is the farthest thing from my mind.  I want to be a mayor this community can be proud of – who will work harder than any previous mayor representing the entire community – creating a safe, vibrant and growing community for this generation and future generations.     

What in terms of downtown revitalization would you like to see initiated?

When we revitalize our local economy with good paying jobs – the downtown will continue to grow and prosper.  As a result of  this growth we can work with the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Merchants Association to market the most beautiful downtown in northeast Indiana.     

What role does the city play in the ongoing partnership(s) with the local school system and the elements of county government?

Your mayor is a facilitator.  Your mayor will work with the local school system keeping the lines of communication open between local government, the business community and the school system.  Your mayor must increase and improve the communication with all our local government officials.  By having both formal and informal dialogue your mayor and your other local officials can continue to reduce the cost of local government and streamline  the services you demand and expect.  

What will your key areas of focus be as mayor?

My three areas of concentration for my administration are as follows: 

1) infrastructure – we will take a very pro-active methodical approach reviewing our utilities.  We will design a program which will go street by street, block by block to create a preventive maintenance program designed to reduce the over-all cost of your utilities. 

2) stop ineffective spending – your government must concentrate on effective spending.  My definition of effective spending is that which gives your community a good return on its investment.  We must stop the trivial wasteful spending that has taken place in government over the last few years.  You will not furnish me with a vehicle.  You will not pay for my unnecessary travels.  You will not pay for unnecessary consultants.  I understand how to manage your money and I know how to manage my time.  I will be the most efficient, effective fulltime mayor Columbia City has ever seen.  And finally, your mayor must be tough enough to say no to projects which do not benefit the entire community. 

3) economic development – your city government must have as a top priority the marketing of Columbia City and Whitley County.  We are still at 9% unemployment and this is unacceptable.  You expect your local officials to represent you and to actively work with regional and state officials to help your community prosper.  I will be that mayor.

What would make you a better mayor than the other two Republican candidates?

Basically, you, the voters, are hiring an employee to fill the position of mayor.  We need to look at the candidate’s qualifications.  What qualifies the best candidate for a job? Experience.  Who has the management skills to best be your mayor? Skills are taught – management skills come from experience.  I have been in financial management since 1972.  I have taught economics and various management classes at International Business College since 1974.  I have served your local city government since the administration of Mayor Jim Teghtmeyer.  My years of experience in business, in education and in government taught me the vital skill of listening.  I will be available, accessible and I will listen.  

There has been a lot of rhetoric about being a "full time mayor" - what are your thoughts on this?

I have been fortunate my whole life to be able to balance two jobs - banking and teaching - so I've gotten very adept at it and find that they complement each other well. In addition, I have been fully engaged in city government for much of that time.

That being said, from my political experience, I know that being a mayor is a demanding job. If need be, and as much as it pains me, I would take a sabbatical from teaching while in office.

However, I encourage you to really question how "full time" the other candidates will really be. Have they made time during the campaign for all appearances and obligations? How easily can one run their own business, a very demanding task, and be a full time mayor, and how will they keep their potentially competing business and professional needs distinct.

Make sure you inquire past the rhetoric to test their commitment and their understanding of what it takes to succeed in this role.

Mr. Sexton: I have been doing background on the mayoral candidates reading the various websites and newspaper articles. I have a question for you. If you are elected mayor, how do you plan to be a full time mayor and work your full time job at the bank? Do you plan to stay on at the bank full time and if so, how do you feel about drawing a full time salary if you are not there full time? Thanks for your response, Sharon [Williams Miley]

Thanks, Sharon, for taking the time to write and for doing your research. As you are no doubt aware, the position of mayor in Columbia City was historically part time until the last 2-3 administrations, and, with proper time management, someone holding that role can and has functioned in multiple positions. I have a long history as a multi-tasker, including teaching at International Business College, to which I'm sure you can relate. As you no doubt are also aware, we have openly addressed this particular issue for weeks now as part of the FAQ tab on our website [www.donsextonformayor.com].

My definition of a full-time mayor is someone who is available, accessible, and visible. I can be and am all of those things, and I'm not sure why, in a small town such as ours where we have many examples of people who are involved in mulitple organizations, this has been promulgated as a wedge issue by my opponents.

Per your specific questions regarding my salary in my current job, I hope you will understand that, as, for example, it would be between you and your employer, this is a personal issue for me to reconcile with them. I believe one should be paid fair market value for the roles and services one provides. I think you can also relate that, at this present time, not knowing the outcome of the election, it would be impractical to declare beyond a shadow of a doubt what will and won't be done after November.

One final thought - my opponents and those supporting them have framed this question one particular way, and I have been gracious enough not to offer this countervailing point, but I ask you: do you want someone who has left a job and is looking to gain this position for their primary career? Careerist politicians don't always have the public's best interests at heart. Thanks for listening, Don

You have run before, several years back as a Democrat.  Why did you change parties?

I switched when it became clear that the Democrats were moving away from fiscal responsibility. I am a fiscal conservative – I will stop the wasteful ineffective spending  taking place in Columbia City's current administration.

What is the format for the April 20 Meet the Candidates event?

Each candidate will introduce themselves - give a brief outline of why they are seeking the office - what goals/objectives they hope to achieve/accomplish - and after the candidates have talked, we will open it up for questions from the audience.  We have the room from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m. when the library closes - so it won't be overly long. Andy Dicker, Columbia City High School speech and debate coach, will be moderating the event.

Is a billboard cheaper than bumper stickers?

While that phrase "do you want a bumper sticker ... or a great leader?" was designed to catch people's attention and make them think, in a manner of speaking, yes, a billboard is cheaper. We have tried to be as economical in our advertising as Don will be in office.

It might help to share some of the numbers with you. For example, a small-size billboard is approximately $500 per month, not including creative and printing which adds another $100. (That is if you don't dictate location or a put a rush on the job which adds at minimum $200 to the total cost.) There are at least 500 to 1,000 views per hour of a board on Highway 30 - multiply that by hours in a day and days in a week, and you see that number gets pretty big pretty fast. Are all of those views by Columbia City residents? Probably not, but those that aren't may know people who live in Columbia City and help with word-of-mouth. So the per person cost is actually quite small, dividing $600 by the number of viewings.

In contrast, here's a rundown on other costs. Bumper stickers can be between $2.50 and $3.00 a piece, and those bumper magnets almost double that. (You can imagine how much those window decals must cost.) T-shirts can be between $6 and $8 a piece (which is why we stopped after ordering 50 - with printing on only one side!). Buttons come in around $1.50 a piece, and we have focused mostly on those as a fun giveaway. Multiply these numbers by even a portion of the number of impressions a billboard gives, and you can see how prohibitively costly that becomes.

Yard signs, double sided with stakes, are around $4 a piece,  and those large yard boards are approximately $150. The web and facebook which are virtually free are arguably the most economical, though web advertising can run around $200 or so a month. Finally, newspaper advertising can run anywhere from $300 to $500 a more per month, depending on placement, frequency, color, et al.

So, the sad reality is that none of it is cheap, but unfortunately it is necessary as political campaigns become more and more of an "arms race." Also, some might counter by saying they've received some of these items "for free" - when you hear that, keep this in mind: 1) that's kind of an unfair advantage over other candidates and 2) it is NEVER free - there is always the cost of labor, time, materials and that cost has to be factored in somewhere.

Someday, hopefully candidates will be chosen strictly on their own merits, and not on how much "noise" they make in the marketplace. Someday. Here's hoping, anyway...

How do you feel about city worker benefits?

There seems to be an unfounded rumor that if elected as your mayor I will eliminate city worker benefits.  This rumor is false.  The only wasteful benefits I plan to eliminate are found in the mayor’s budget.   If I am allowed to serve you – I will not hesitate to remove extravagant spending from the mayor’s office.

Where would you propose to get money for these rather large local projects (e.g. the "205 Project")?

I believe very strongly that the "205 Project" is an unnecessary project.  This is a waste of our public monies.  This 1/4 mile stretch of highway does not need repair or redesigning.  We need effective spending to pro-actively maintain our existing infrastructure - not spending public funds on a section of highway that is not broken.

Where can I get a yard sign?

Just drop us a line via the "contact us" tab, and we will get you one right away! Thanks for your support!

What are you views on public safety and what will you do if elected?

Public safety is the number one priority of our local government.  The best equipment is necessary for you to respond properly and safely for all concerned.  I plan to work very closely with both our Fire and Police Departments so we can furnish the service our citizens deserve and expect.

What is your stand on the wind farm proposal? Are you for a wind farm coming to town or against?

This is such a challenging issue and I know there are no easy answers to it. I am a big fan of the environment - my wife and I have been animal advocates as long as I can remember, helping educate folks on how important it is to take care of the earth we have. So I, like others, support our nation looking at saving our environment and finding alternative energy solutions. But I'm a homeowner too, and I can understand how folks feel about the impact of these large turbines near their homes - a whole different "environmental impact."

I do know that there are different kinds of wind turbine technology, some smaller, some larger. If you are part of the effort trying to get this issue discussed in all its different aspects, that's a good thing. You will see that my stance on many issues, including other community development projects, is that we need to do our homework and understand all implications before making decisions. As mayor, I commit to listening to all sides and facilitating solutions that are in the best needs of people who live here and the future of our community. I know this might seem like a "non-answer," but in all honesty, I need to learn more about that issue, and I appreciate that there are folks out there teaching all of us.

If you have the opportunity to bring in a new fire chief, what would the process be?

This is a question which will be answered after the election.  I believe very strongly in communicating with everyone who will be impacted by a decision.  I will definitely talk with members of the department before any changes are made.

What if I live outside the city limits but want to show my support?

What you can do is tell all your friends who DO live in town to be sure and request a Republican ballot and VOTE for Don Sexton in the May primary. With three candidates so far it is crucial we get out the vote – otherwise a candidate could win with only 10% or less of people who cast ballots

Ask Any Question...
Don Sexton for Mayor.
The People's Choice.

                        Columbia City, Indiana
Keep checking this page,
we will post questions &
answers as they come in!

Thanks for your support &
your interest!
Photos and coverage by Jennifer Romano, www.talkofthetownwc.com