Friday, February 12, 2016

One Dem seeks county council spot

Posted on Feb. 19, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.

ELKHART — No stranger to running for office, Ralph Spelbring’s name will be on the ballot in November as the only Democrat seeking a seat on the Elkhart County Council.

Though Spelbring, of Elkhart, is outnumbered by Republicans, the lone Democratic hopeful does not see his party affiliation as a disadvantage.

“It just seems to me that the Democrats ought to be represented,” he said.

Two issues are at the forefront of Spelbring’s campaign. One, he said, is working closely with law enforcement to combat drug abuse in the county. He said the key may be putting more restrictions on pseudoephedrine, a drug used to make methamphetamine.

Another issue that Spelbring is passionate about is improving the county’s roads. Spelbring, who grew up near Terre Haute, moved to Elkhart in 1972, a time when he said Michigan’s roads to the north were considered better than Indiana’s.

“It seems to be that the state needs to increase the gasoline tax by a couple of cents per gallon with one penny going to the counties to help with roads and bridges,” he said.

Spelbring, 66, is retired and worked as a chemist at Whitehall Laboratories, which closed in 1991. He studied at DePauw University, Indiana University and Indiana State University, where he received a teacher’s license. He was a substitute teacher at area schools for several years.

“I’ve lived here for 40 years, and I’ve always taken an interest in political affairs,” he said.

Spelbring has thrown his hat into the political ring nine times in the past 30 years including presidential races in 1992 and 2008. He tried his luck in 1982 for a state representative post and again two years later for a state senate seat. His interest in politics prompted him to run for U.S. representative in districts across the state five times from 1986 to 2000. Locally, he ran for Elkhart City Council in 1983.

In the race for an at-large post on the Elkhart County Council, Spelbring is pitted against incumbents John Letherman and David Ashe as well as challengers Jason Obendorf, Thomas Stump and Randy Wilson, all Republicans.