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2 commissioner spots open; choice required in only 1
Monday, October 29, 2012 8:40 AM
Two positions on the Huntington County Board of Commissioners are on the Nov. 6 ballot, but a choice is required in only one.
Incumbent Commissioner Tom Wall, a Republican, and Democrat challenger Kenneth "Kenny" Zuk are both seeking the third district seat.
Republican Larry Buzzard is the lone candidate seeking to serve as the second district county commissioner.
Buzzard briefly served as a commissioner in 2008, when he was appointed to fill a vacancy, and will return to the panel in January, succeeding Kathy Branham as second district representative. Branham did not seek re-election.
Buzzard, 54, of 930 Warren St., is self-employed with Chem-Tech Consulting and is co-owner of Spokesmen Cycling, in Huntington.
While Buzzard ran a successful race against former Huntington Mayor Terry Abbett in the Republican primary last May, Wall sailed through the primary with no opponent. The local Democrat Party, which had no candidates for either commissioner district in May, later appointed Zuk as its third district candidate in the general election.
The second commissioner district includes Lancaster, Polk, Wayne, Jefferson and Salamonie townships. While the commissioner must live in the district he represents, the office is voted on by all residents of Huntington County.
Wall, 55, of 1359W-200S, Huntington, is completing his first four-year term as a county commissioner. He is president of T.D. Wall Inc., a family business dealing in manufactured and modular homes and recreational vehicles.
A lifelong Huntington County resident, Wall serves on a variety of community organizations including the Huntington County Drainage Board, Huntington County Economic Development, Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and the Regional Opportunity Council. He served eight years on the Huntington County 4-H Fair Board Association and is a member of Metro Kiwanis, Mizpah Shrine, Veterans of Foreign Wars Men's Auxiliary, Moose Lodge, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Chief LaFontaine Saddle Club and ABATE of Indiana.
Zuk, 56, of 4000W-400S, Huntington, previously served as chairman of the Huntington County Democrat Party and as a member of the Huntington County Election Board. He is semi-retired, having worked as a small business owner and a sales and marketing executive for more than 30 years. He is currently the producer of "Kenny and Friends Karaoke" at The Bell.
Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Zuk has lived in Huntington County the past eight years. He formerly served as a political talk show co-host on The Gary Snyder Show and has been active in productions at the Pulse Opera House, in Warren.
Wall says a teamwork approach to both local projects and economic development has been a hallmark of his first four years as commissioner and would continue to be his focus for the next four years.
Zuk says Huntington County has an image problem to overcome before it can grow, citing in particular actions by former Huntington Mayor Steve Updike and by Wall, who is scheduled to appear in court after the election to answer seven misdemeanor battery charges.
Wall says only that he will be vindicated of those charges.
His four years as a commissioner, Wall says, show the progress the county has made.
"We have teamwork in all aspects now," he says, among the county, the city and the towns. "If they're in need, we're going to be there to help them."
Teamwork has also played a major role in the success of economic development projects for the county, he says.
"It's been phenomenal, and we're getting results," Wall says.
Wall points to the newly-developed Markle industrial park, put in place through the combined efforts of the Huntington and Wells county commissioners, the town of Markle and Huntington County United Economic Development. The teamwork approach makes it possible for Huntington County to quickly respond to the needs of site developers looking for locations for their businesses as well as the needs of businesses already located in the county, he adds.
"We want results," Wall says. "The only way we can get results is to get everybody at the same table."
Zuk maintains that a change in leadership style would benefit the county.
"Over the next eight years, I would like to see county residents be able to watch their children grow up and find jobs and continue their lives, instead of move away," Zuk says.
To do that, he says, the county needs to change its image. He says his management experience will help him to work toward that end,
"You provide confident, competent and professional leadership in government," he says. "You have to do that in a cooperative way and not like you're running your own business."
Past controversies associated with local leaders may have given industries cause not to locate in Huntington County, he says.
"Why did they decide to build elsewhere?" Zuk asks. "It's hard to put a finger on, but it has to do with the overall image of the county. I would work diligently to improve that."
One way of improving the image is to increase the transparency of the workings of the county commissioners, Zuk says, raising the possibility of providing a webcast of the commissioners' meetings.