Lori Roe filed Monday for one of the three Kosciusko County at-large seats as a Democrat. Pictured (L to R) are Vicki Morton, Kosciusko County Democratic Party vice chair; Melissa Boggs, Kosciusko County deputy clerk; Ann Torpy, Kosciusko clerk of circuit and superior courts; and Roe. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
Lori Roe filed Monday for one of the three Kosciusko County at-large seats as a Democrat. Pictured (L to R) are Vicki Morton, Kosciusko County Democratic Party vice chair; Melissa Boggs, Kosciusko County deputy clerk; Ann Torpy, Kosciusko clerk of circuit and superior courts; and Roe. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
Kosciusko County will have six choices for the three county council at-large seats in the November election.

And with Democrat Paul Morales backing out Friday, Democrat Lori Roe filed Monday, making the slate of candidates all women.

The other two Democrats are Noemi Ponce and Itanya Coon-Kauffman; and the Republicans are Kathy Groninger and incumbents Sue Ann Mitchell and Joni Truex.

“My main reason for running is to give people choice. There are too many elections in this county that have one person in one category, and I want to give people an opportunity to make a choice,” Roe said at the county clerk’s office before filing her paperwork.

As to what choice she offers voters, she said, “I think diversity is always good and not just diversity in obvious reasons, but also diversity of ideas and diversity of outlooks and perspectives. If you keep electing the same ideas all the time, you get the same solutions to the same problems, and so sometimes it’s good to get a new perspective, so (I offer) a new perspective.”

Roe is a full-time faculty member at Ivy Tech Community College in Warsaw, where she has been for almost 20 years and has seen many people from the county come through.

Ivy Tech does not endorse political candidates, political activities or partisan activities.

Ponce and Coon-Kauffman, also teachers, have made education a big part of their election platform, and Roe says it’ll play a large part in hers, too, because it’s what she does for a living.

“It’s who I am. I am a teacher. It’s what I do. And my experiences through Ivy Tech have given me new perspectives on the world. I have been able to lead students and community members abroad, so I have seen other countries, communities, culturals and the differences in our area. I think that will bring a new perspective,” Roe said.

She’s been in higher education most of her life, as a student and teacher, so she says that provides a whole new perspective.

The county council is the “purse” strings of the county, determining where funding will go and how much will be spent.

“Funding is always an issue, and that’s what county council does, so any abatement that’s granted that affects educational funding, I want to see more details. I want to see what we are doing. Are we helping our county with education? Because education solves a lot of problems. You can educate the public and they can reach their career goals, and they can think critically about issues and get engaged about what’s going on, and then you have a better community. And people are intelligently engaging, and the free press plays a big part of it. So anything that has impact on our educational funding, of course, is an important aspect for me,” Roe said.

She said it’s “difficult to say” what the big issues for the county over the next four years will be because “we never know what’s going to happen,” such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the spotlight right now is pandemics – how do we deal with pandemics, how do we deal with emergencies that affect everyone regardless of economic level,” she said. “So this pandemic is affecting everyone, regardless of your stature, status, educational background. It’s affecting all levels. So what can we do as a county to prepare for the next one? Or get through this one first, right, and then prepare for the next one because there will be a next one?”

She said the county needs to take a look at what it did well this time, what it didn’t do well and what needs to happen before the next pandemic happens.

On May 25, Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, after a convenience store employee called 911 and told the police that Floyd had bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill, according to a New York Times article. Seventeen minutes after the first squad car arrived at the scene, Floyd was unconscious and pinned beneath three police officers, showing no signs of life. His death sparked worldwide protests, including several in Kosciusko County.

“Then, of course, with all the social issues that are going on right now, I’ve been encouraged by the sheriff’s statements and videos I’ve watched of him and the stance he has taken on equality in our county, so I’m hopeful that, I think, not that we’ve had severe problems that I know of, but that we can move forward with purpose in our equality and fairness in law enforcement. I know we mostly hold the purse strings on that, but I definitely think there are some things we could do to make it better,” Roe said.

Finally, she encouraged everyone who is eligible to get out and vote.

“Go vote! Make a choice, don’t just let the minority of people who show up make the decision for you. Get out there and choose. As Rush always says, ‘If you choose not to choose, you’ve made a choice.’ So choose. Why give the responsibility to someone else? Get out there and vote. That’s my main goal: Vote and I want to give you a chance to make a choice,” she concluded.