One of the biggest issues facing the city of Columbus is the ongoing opioid epidemic.
In the past few years, the city has taken several steps to fight the drug issue including partnering with Bartholomew County and Columbus Regional Health to form the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress, and dedicating funds from local income taxes to pay for programs and other costs fighting the epidemic.
We asked the candidates in the contested Republican primaries in next week’s election for their thoughts on what more the city could do to address the opioid crisis.
Columbus Republican voters will be choosing candidates in three City Council races in the May 7th primary election – District 1, District 3 and the at-large races.
In District 1, incumbent Dascal Bunch is facing challenger Chris Rutan.
In District 3, incumbent Dave Bush is running against Russell Poling.
In the At-Large race, incumbent Laurie Booher is facing a challenge from John D. Counceller and Josh Burnett.
About the candidates:
Dascal Bunch, 64, is currently in his second term representing District 1 on the Columbus City Council. He also works part-time. Bunch has two adult childre, six grandchildren and a seventh on the way. He attended Ball State University. Bunch is involved with St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, specifically the church’s “Angels of Love” program.
Chris Rutan, 41, is a local property manager. He has previously run for city council, district 1, Columbus Townsip Trustee and the Columbus Township Advisory Board. Rutan is heavily involved with the Salvation Army.
David Bush, 34, currently serves District 3 on the Columbus City Council. He was selected by local Republican Party leaders to complete the term of former Councilman Frank Jerome, who moved out of the district. Bush is also a small business owner. He and his wife Katy are raising three children. Bush is a graduate of Columbus East and Purdue. He is involved with Turning Point and is a member of the operations board for St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.
Russell Poling, 56, is a quality manager at Cummins and a 20-year veteran of the Air Force. He and his wife Judy have two adult children and one grandchild. Poling has a degree in computer science from the the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He is a mentor with the Bartholomew County Veterans Treatment Court and serves on the Bartholomew County Plan Commission and as vice president of the Columbus City Plan Commission. Poling previously ran for this council seat in 2015.
Laurie Booher is currently serving on the Columbus City Council At-Large. She is a small business owner that employs youths and adults with special needs. Booher has three adult children and a master’s degree in physical therapy from the Universtity of Indianapolis. Booher served as a member of the Columbus Service League, as well as on the boards of Turning Point and Riley Hospital Foundation.
John D. Counceller,72, is a local business owner. He and his wife have a blended family of seven adult children. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Trine University. Counceller ran unsucessfully last year to represent Indiana House District 59.
Josh Burnett, 31, is a small busines owner. He and his wife Katie are raising there young children. Burnett is a graduate of Columbus East and Cincinnatti Christian University. His is a member of Columbus Young Professionals, the local Rotary Club and the board of the Bartholomew Consolidated School Foundation. This is his first run at elected office.
There are no contested primaries on the Democratic side.