Press Release: Election Briefs

Dietz supports living wage ordinance

Democratic candidate for Monroe County commissioner Rick Dietz says he thinks it is time the county developed a living wage ordinance.

Dietz, a former county council member running for the Democratic Party nomination for the vacant county commissioner District 3 seat, said it is time for the county to consider adopting a living wage ordinance for its employees as the city of Bloomington did 10 years ago. The city of Bloomington’s living wage for 2016 is $12.32 and is adjusted annually for inflation, according to a news release.

The living wage would ensure that employees earn enough income to cover basic needs such as food, clothing, transportation and shelter. Dietz said looking at the city ordinance is a starting point for the county to discuss adopting its own living wage ordinance, adding the rate the county pursues needs to be adjusted for inflation over time.

“We can’t control the federal minimum wage, but we can control what we pay county staff and what we expect of contractors and companies receiving county benefits,” Dietz said, adding that the current $7.25/hour minimum wage has not kept up with inflation.

If elected, Dietz said he will lead a collaborative effort involving various county elected officials, department heads, staff and public in the development and drafting of the Living Wage Ordinance. In addition, he said, local labor leaders and city council members involved in the development of Bloomington’s living wage ordinance are advising him in his efforts to create something similar for MonroeCounty.

“A living wage shows that Monroe County government is doing right by those we employ and those working for contractors or employed by companies receiving county benefits,” Dietz said.

Easton seeks office qualifications reform

Democratic candidate for Monroe County auditor Kevin Easton promises to petition the state Legislature to reform how individuals are elected to the office.

Easton, a procurement specialist for Indiana PTAC and former auditor for the Department of Defense, said if elected, he would like to challenge the Indiana legislators to consider adding minimum qualifications to run for important financial offices such as the auditor.

He said the assessor’s office has a minimum qualification standard and auditors have professional certifications, such as CPA, CIA, CFE and others they can be required to obtain before taking office.

This will help ensure qualified candidates are running those county departments, he said.

“Many qualifications at least to sit for these exams is not too high a minimum standard,” Easton said in a news release.

“Many of the industry certifications have minimum education requirements that should also be a requirement of these offices.

For example, it is not too much to ask a candidate for auditor, the chief financial officer of the county, to have a degree in accounting or finance, he said.

There are some arguments that the position should not be elected at all but appointed. Easton said he disagrees with that because it raises concerns of nepotism, favoritism and cronyism, adding it also tends to lead to less transparency in the selection process compared with elections.

“I am in favor of more transparency in government, not less, and for candidates meeting specific qualifications being screened by the general public through election rather than a potentially partisan individual,” Easton said in the release.