Former County Councilman seeks return to office

The sixth candidate for the at-large county council seat opened by the death of Council President Bob Sanders previously served on the board for 20 years.

Harold Jones, 72, North Webster, represented District 2 on the Kosciusko County Council from 1990-2010.

“I’ve really enjoyed doing it. I didn’t resign last time, I was beaten in the primary,” he stated Friday afternoon in his Leesburg office. Jim Moyer was the councilman who beat Jones in that primary.

In the 7 p.m. June 7 Republican caucus in the old county courthouse, Jones will be up for the seat along with Brett Harter, Leesburg; Kim Cates, Syracuse; Tressa Nichols, North Webster; Paul Finley, Warsaw; and Josh Finch, Warsaw. Deadline to file a declaration of candidacy with Kosciusko County Republican Chairman Mike Ragan is 7 p.m. Sunday.

Sanders died May 14 at the age of 69. He was elected to the council in 2005 and had served as council president the past four years.

Jones said he filed for the seat late because he wanted to give it considerable thought and to make sure it was the right thing to do for the county.

The budgeting process for 2018 is two months off, and Jones said he thinks he can be a benefit to the council and the community.

His family ran a grocery store in Leesburg for 40 years, which he said was “pretty successful.” It was sold in 2005.

In his previous service on the council, Jones said he worked with some pretty great people, including Maury Beer, Avis Gunter and Eddie Creighton, among others.

“Back when I was younger, I needed a mentor and I had some of the best,” he said.

Jones highlighted some of the accomplishments the county council and commissioners achieved while he served on the council. He listed the county securing the Louis Dreyfus Commodities plant coming to Claypool; the Justice Building expansion; the work-release center, which he said is one of the most prosperous things the county has done because it houses inmates it doesn’t have to pay for; and the modern 911 Dispatch Center.

He recalled the county fighting with the state on road funding when oil prices were going up but gas tax income wasn’t. Kosciusko County passed the wheel tax, which it began collecting in 2016, so now it can begin to get the roads back in good condition, he said, and he’d like to be a part of that.

Also while he was on the county council, Jones said Kosciusko County had the No. 1 or 2 lowest property tax rate in the state. “It’s important to keep the property taxes low, and the rest of the county council and commissioners feel the same way,” he said.

In his 20 years on the council, Jones said he missed only four meetings.

“I’m very active and enjoy doing it,” he said.

Jones served for five years on the council with Sanders, whom he called an ambitious man who was always there to help. Between Sanders’ passing and longtime councilman Brad Tandy moving to San Diego, Jones said the council will feel their absence, especially come budget time.

If he’s elected to the council by the caucus, Jones said, “I’ll be there and do a good job. I?don’t lack the experience and I don’t require any training.”

He and his wife, Lois, have been married 54 years. They have three sons and five grandchildren.

His memberships include Kosciusko Lodge 418, Milford; Yorkrite, Knight’s Temple, Elkhart; Mizpah Shrine, Fort Wayne; 20 years on the Leesburg Fire Department; 10 years, Leesburg Town Board; and he served 25 years as a precinct committeeman, according to a list he provided. He served three times as a delegate to the Republican state convention and was the 1988 Leesburg Lions Man of the Year. He was inducted into the Kosciusko County Republican Hall of Fame and a charter member of CrimeStoppers. A 48-year resident of Kosciusko County, he served on the planning committee for the high school and Harrison and Eisenhower elementary schools.