Voters in New Palestine will see some familiar names on the ballot, combined with a new name next week when they hit the polls on election day.
Incumbents Jan Jarson and Brandee Bastin, both Republicans, will be joined by Independent Angela Fahrnow and Republican Bill Niemier, who would have to give up his seat on the Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County school board should he win. Three of the candidates will be elected.
For Jarson, she has served eight years on council and told Giant FM, she feels like she is just getting started in so many ways.
“We’ve accomplished so much, but there is so much more to do. I enjoy serving my community. I like the people. I like to hear what people think, answer questions, find out what it is they feel would improve our hometown,” said Jarson, who added she would like to continue working to keep the town going in a positive direction.
Bastin has served since January 2017, and she mentioned that while she feels she has learned much, she believes there is still much to learn and give to the community.
“Public service is something that is important to me and my family, and I would like to be involved in continuing to shape the future of our town in this capacity. I enjoy meeting with and talking to our citizens and hearing their concerns and hopes for our community and doing my best to help make their voices heard, as that is what I am elected to do, represent the citizens of New Palestine,” Bastin told Giant FM.
For Fahrnow, her decision to run was a simple one.
“I was surprised when I heard the town council hadn’t had an election in over 20 years. Whenever someone stepped down, another person was nominated to fill the role. The town was changing and it seemed that the council lost touch with the needs of people. I would like the town to provide more communication to its citizens and, in particular, significantly, more details in council meetings. Without such communication, people have a difficult time understanding what town council members truly approved. Everyone deserves to understand the entire context of how the committee is spending the town’s funds and what it means to them. In addition, I would like to see the council embrace ideas centered around modernization and progression. The council needs to be more transparent with how our tax paying dollars are being spent,” said Fahnow, who is a registered nurse.
As for Neimier, serving in an active role is something he says is important to him.
“This is the first time that I am seeking to be elected to the New Palestine Town Council. I am currently serving my second term as the President of the Southern Hancock School Board and I have been on our local School Board for the past eleven years. My children are older now, with my youngest son being a sophomore at Wabash College, and therefore, I believe it is time to allow a parent with K-12 aged children to take my place on the School Board. Becoming a member of the Town Council will allow me to remain in an active leadership position in our community,” he told Giant FM.
All the candidates say there are various issues facing the town they would love to represent.
Fahrnow told Giant FM, she believes New Palestine “lags many of our neighboring communities when it comes to modernization and progression.”
“Though I respect and understand the importance of maintaining our town’s heritage and culture, our town lacks basic advancement in corporate business developments, new restaurants and entertainment facilities. The town is experiencing significant growth, and we need to prepare our community with infrastructure enhancements capable of supporting this needed progression our town citizens deserve,” she said.
Neimier said the town council needs expanding, which voters will have the option to make their voice heard on. Currently there are three members on the council, but voters will decide whether to expand it to five members.
“First, the number of members of the Town Council needs to be expanded from three to five. Recently, a Town Council meeting was cancelled due to a lack of the required quorum. Increasing the size of the Town Council will not only help avoid future quorum problems, but it also will allow for two additional points of view and experiences to help address issues before the Town Council. Second, managing current and future growth is the most pressing issue facing the Town of New Palestine. While serving on our local School Board, I helped develop a long-term strategic plan that added a new school building, improved facilities, and is in the process of renovating and expanding the high school. All without a significant increase in taxes. Thoughtful, fiscally responsible strategic planning is a skill I can bring to the Town Council,” he told Giant FM.
Jarson told Giant FM the big issue she sees is continuing to guide positive growth and maintaining the services the town provides.
“Some examples are keeping up the streets, public safety, sewer service, trails and sidewalks. These are just a few of the things the town takes care of,” she said.
Bastin told Giant FM, New Palestine is a “dynamic, small town with opportunities for growth in many ways.”
“We have to make some tough decisions on how much we want to grow, both qualitatively and quantitatively. We have wonderful places to live, work and play, but we must evaluate what future growth can and should look like without placing undue financial burdens on our citizens. Future commercial growth in our town has great potential, but so does making our community more navigable with expanding our sidewalks and trail systems to better connect our citizens with community resources and everything our town has to offer,” Bastin said.
And, all four believe they truly are the best person for the job.
Bastin told Giant FM she is not afraid to ask questions, seek accountability and is involved in town.
“Again, I meet people where they are at, with an open mind and a willingness to listen, because, as an elected official, it is my job to represent the people of New Palestine. Taking into account my educational and political background, as well as a wide variety of professional and volunteer community roles, I have built a wide network of connections and knowledge base to understand the pulse of our community and feel that I am an ideal candidate to continue serving our community as a member of the New Palestine Town Council,” she said.
Fahrnow pointed to her running as an Independent and the work it took to get on the ballot.
“Running as an Independent, I went door to door and gathered the required signatures of registered town voters in order to be on the ballot. I heard everyone’s complaints and requests from more restaurant choices to improvements to current roads, including adding speed bumps to current housing additions. Others requested more information about current council decisions. I would like to open that door so everyone is heard, everyone has a voice, and everyone is aware of what is happening in their town. I know not everyone can attend town council meetings, but we can make them more accessible, even from the comfort of their own homes. Modern technology has made it possible to live stream these meetings and even have a Q&A available towards the end of these meetings where people can text questions for the board to answer. We are a small town, and we are all in this together,” she said.
Jarnow told Giant FM she hopes the voters and her neighbors have confidence in her ability to continue to fulfill the duties of a town council member.
“I don’t have an agenda. I just have the desire and willingness to continue to serve and give back to our community in my small way. The bottom line is I am there to do a job for my hometown,” she said.
For Niemier, he said New Palestine has been home for 28 years and he and his wife have devoted their adult lives to service in New Palestine.
“From the first day we moved to New Palestine, Michelle and I have both been, and continue to be, very active in our community. Those of you with children our age likely remember me from the many years volunteering and coaching youth baseball, football, softball, soccer, and wrestling. Of all my service, I draw your attention to our schools. Our single greatest asset, second only to the people of New Palestine. For the past 11 years I have served on our local School Board, including serving as its President on two occasions. In this role, I have helped navigate our school system through major funding changes and the challenges of growth. There are four qualified candidates for the New Palestine Town Council. However, my well-honed listening and problem-solving skills set me apart from the other candidates. I am the General Council and Vice-President of Tharp Investments, a local real estate development company. We built the Arthur’s Grocery Store (which is now Needler’s Grocery Store) and the Fifth/Third Bank next to the grocery store. There will be a new development immediately north of these two buildings in the near future. I also operate a sole practice law firm out of my house, and I regularly serve as a judge in several different courts, which has improved my ability to consider differing views while generating creative solutions in the best interest of those to whom I am accountable. I am not running for Town Council because I believe there are problems that need to be fixed, instead it’s quite the opposite. This is a great town, and we have very dedicated and long serving employees and a Town Council that I want to help make even better,” he told Giant FM.