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Republicans hear from primary candidates

Correction: Ryan Lauer has been a member of Bartholomew County Council since 2010. An earlier version of this story had the year incorrect.

The Bartholomew County Republican Ladies League held a candidate forum Wednesday evening in the Red Room of the Bartholomew County Public Library. The group invited all Republicans involved in contested primary races to take part.

The standing room only crowd were very attentive, with special attention seemingly paid to the race for sheriff. All four candidates: Todd Noblitt, Matt Myers, T.A. Smith and Dean Johnson, took part.

All four talked about the need to strengthen the department's relationship with the Columbus Police Department, as well as the town marshals and other officers working within the county. Noblitt suggested that sheriff's department equipment that is updated regularly could be passed along to the marshals to help them lower costs. Johnson says he would focus on eliminating the duplication of efforts.

When discussing the topic of crime, all four candidates agreed it was a problem in the community. Smith said that while drugs are an issue, it is not the only issue. He said he would also focus on other issues like property crime. Myers, on the other hand, argued that the drug issue is the core problem driving the majority of crime in the city and county. Johnson said he would like to increase the number of county narcotics officers from one to three. Noblitt said he would devote more resources to crimes like domestic violence and exploitation of children and the elderly.

Next to take the floor were the Republicans candidates for Superior Court II judge. They included incumbent Kathleen "Kitty" Coriden, Columbus City Attorney Jeff Logston and Bartholomew County Deputy Prosecutor Greg Long.

All three candidates said that efficiency and sound decision making are critical in being a good judge. Coriden, who changed her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican last year, adds that experience is also a must.

Counting traffic citations, Coriden says that the court deals with approximately 13,000 cases per year. Other matters that go before the court include divorces, civil suits, collections and adoptions, among others.

The final candidates to participate in the forum are battling for the District 59 seat in the Indiana Statehouse. Incumbent Milo Smith is being challenged by Bartholomew County Council President Ryan Lauer.

Smith is in his fourth term as District 59 Representative. He has a tax business in Columbus. Smith identifies himself as a listener to everyone he represents, regardless of political affiliation.

Lauer was elected to the County Council in 2010. He is an engineer with Cummins Inc.. Lauer identifies himself as a conservative who champions education, particularly math, science and classical literature.

Both candidates say they can make government work with less waste. Lauer pointed to his time on the council as indicative of his ability to work with others to get the most out of individual departments with less money being spent. If elected, Lauer says his priorities would be improved education and to protect Hoosiers from the encroachment of the federal government.

Smith says that in his time at the Statehouse, the number of state employees dropped from 36,000 to 30,000. He also championed cuts in property taxes and giving the freedom to individual counties to decide certain taxing decisions. Smith also says education is a priority for him. He says he is glad to see Common Core gone from Indiana schools.

The 2014 primary election is Tuesday, May 6. We'll have candidate profiles online in the coming days.

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 7:11:33 AM

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