After serving seven years, former Batesville resident Juanita “DeeDee” Kaiser resigned from her Ripley County Council District 1 seat by letter in mid-November.
She moved to Bridgetown in Western Hills, a Cincinnati suburb, to be closer to her two daughters and three grandchildren, Kaiser explained by phone Dec. 10.
Being in that position for almost two terms “really opened my eyes to a lot of things that go on with the council, especially the budget. We were in charge of 28 government entities.”
The Republican discussed two council accomplishments during her tenure. Of constructing the Ripley County Annex adjacent to the Versailles courthouse that houses county offices, she said, “I know people complained about that, but the money was there. That’s paid for.”
Keeping the budget in the black is another triumph. “It was balanced right before I came on. We kept it balanced. Quite a few times we spent long days trying to shave that budget, yet be fair to people. I really have to admire (lone Democratic council member) Ed Armbrecht ... he just knows everything. He used to work with the state.”
After the mild weather of a year ago, “if we have a bad winter,” maintaining the budget while paying for road plowing labor and materials will be the challenge, she predicted.
A Republican caucus was held at the Sherman House Nov. 26 to fill Kaiser’s seat, reported John Moton, Batesville, the Ripley County Republican Party vice chair and Laughery 3-1 precinct committeeman.
After Kaiser’s resignation, county party leaders had two weeks to select her replacement.
How many applications were received? “That’s an excellent question,” he chuckled. “We really never know on those things. It’s up to the candidates themselves to submit the paperwork. We knew of a few who were interested. Ron (Decker) was the one who was the most interested and the one who went ahead and filled the paperwork out.”
Decker was appointed to represent District 1, which encompasses Batesville and most of Laughery Township, through Dec. 31, 2014.
Moton and three other precinct committee members (Don Dickey Sr., Laughery 2-1; Sarah Riehle, Adams 1; and Marilyn Gausman, Laughery 1) made the decision, according to Moton. Two others helped with the caucus process. As Ripley County Republican Party chair, county Recorder Ginger Bradford was the caucus inspector, but could only vote if there was a tie. Liz Baumgartner counted the votes.
Of the appointment, Moton observed, “Ron brings to the table a wealth of experience in terms of his business side of things. He’s an entrepreneur. He’s invested in our community in terms of his success with Batesville Online. ... I think also Ron has an independent spirit that makes him capable to see problems and find solutions to them quickly. I think that’s his greatest strength as a candidate.”
This is the first public office for the 51-year-old Batesville resident. He wants to be on the council because “I’m tired of hearing everybody complaining. To see if I can make a difference.”
When the owner of Digitech Advertising and Marketing, and Batesville Online was informed he was chosen, he felt “very pleased, very happy. I feel privileged because people picked me and believed in me.”
Decker is father to Kelli Snapp, Batesville, and Aaron Decker, a Ball State University student. He has a granddaughter, Ellie Snapp, almost 3.
According to the Republican, “I’m like most people nowadays. I vote for the person I think is best.” His political philosophy will be “to do the right thing. I’m the one who’s got to sleep at night.”
The fresh member will attend his first council meeting Dec. 16. “I’m looking forward to ... meeting new people and learning how county government works and helping it to work more efficiently.”
Decker added, “I will be running in the (May 6, 2014) primary” to seek a full four-year term that will begin Jan. 1, 2015.
Debbie Blank can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.