District 3 Council challengers focus on budget


Republican incumbent Charmian Klem, 38, and Democratic challenger Deborah Major, 64, have their sights set on the Dubois County Council District 3 seat. Both women ran unopposed in the May primary election.


The council determines county employee salaries and adopts the county’s budget. District 3 covers Columbia, Ferdinand, Hall, Jackson, Jefferson and Marion townships on the eastern side of the county.

Seeking re-election to her second term in the seat, Klem feels that important projects began while she was in office and those projects need to be followed through. She said her relationship with different department heads and her understanding of what is going on in the county is valuable.

During her first term, the council upgraded the county communications system and 911 center, facilitated a study of the Dubois County Security Center that could lead to structural changes and committed $1.75 million to an environmental study for the long-discussed Mid-States Corridor highway. Klem also led an in-house county employee wage study that cost the county about $500 total.

“I just think there’s going to be questions that periodically pop up, and it would be very, very good if I were still in a position to be in council meetings, explain these things, explain our process and make decisions on those,” Klem said. She said the completion of that wage study was one of her biggest accomplishments in her first term.

If re-elected, her ultimate goal is to continue being a bridge between the taxpayers and local government and ensure local dollars are spent mindfully. She said she is a good fit for the position because she takes a lot of initiative.

“I didn’t take this position because I have all the answers,” she said. “I didn’t run for office because I know everything about every issue that’s coming up. But I do work really, really hard to connect with the right people that do have answers and to listen to people who might have an opinion on how we should move forward on particular issues.”

Klem has been a self-employed independent beauty consultant with Mary Kay Cosmetics for 14 years. She also manages accounts for her family’s business, Steckler Grassfed LLC. Klem graduated summa cum laude with Academic Honors from Heritage Hills High School in 1998. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in German and math education, magna cum laude, from the University of Southern Indiana in 2002.

Committees and boards on which Klem serves include the Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission and the Dubois County Communication Committee. She also acts as a liaison to the Dubois County Soil and Water Conservation District.

She and her husband, Barry, have three children, Nora, 9, Ty, 8, and Ada, 1. Klem has been a member of Redemption Christian Church in Jasper since 2007 and is a member of the St. Anthony Conservation Club. Her hobbies include gardening, walking and reading.

“It really has been an absolute joy to work for Dubois County residents,” she said. “I can’t stress that enough.”

Major has experience establishing and reevaluating budgets — she managed big dollar budgets for several companies before she retired from institutional management.

After reading Herald stories regarding the council, Major realized those skills are important to the county council seat, and since she had more free time, she decided to run in hopes that she could use them as a contribution to the community.

She holds a degree in food, nutrition and institutional management from the University of Alabama. She retired after 38 years of institutional management, during which she served in hospitals, industry and higher education.

Major has evaluated salaries and put together guidelines regarding how to make pay equitable for a hospital — similar to the county’s recent wage study, she said — and she’s also been through several construction projects in past positions. Major has developed institutional budgets, revenue-generating projects, management policies, and has experience in analyses of budgets, sales, accounting and payroll functions, as well as personnel hiring, development and training.

If elected, she’d encourage the council to take a look at the function of the county jail building and possibly expand its purpose.

“I know in a construction project you can maintain the status quo, maybe make it a little larger, but can you think outside the box about what that building can do,” Major said. “So, I would like those kind of thoughts to be put into the process.”

She said some of those possibilities could include making money by housing prisoners from other counties, establishing a juvenile section and providing education to inmates.

She’d also like to find ways to use tax dollars responsibly and said her experience would help department managers budget smarter. She’d like to see the county budget like a business in the sense that costs are kept down and the future is kept in mind.

“That’s what I can bring to the table,” she said. “I think I’m one of these people that has always had a good head on my shoulders for common sense, and I can see through things that don’t make sense.”

She has resided in Ferdinand for 18 years with her husband of 35 years, Raymond. They have three adult children: Woodrow, Eli and Kathryn.


Other local races include:


U.S. Senate (Mike Braun / Lucy Brenton / Joe Donnelly)

District 8 U.S. Representative (Larry Bucshon / William Tanoos)

Indiana Senate 47 (Erin Houchin / Nick Siler)

Indiana House 63 (Joe Lannan / Shane Lindauer)

Indiana House 74 (Steve Bartels / Larry Kleeman)

Dubois County Sheriff (Tom Kleinhelter / Tim Lampert)

Dubois County Clerk (Amy Kippenbrock / Kiersten Knies)

Dubois County Recorder (Jackie McPherron / Gail Reutman)

Dubois County Assessor (Eve Drew / Angie Giesler)

Dubois County Council District 2 (Becky Beckman / Darren Patterson)

Dubois County Council District 3 (Charmain Klem / Deborah Major)

Cass Township Advisory Board (Lee Bilderback / Randy Boehm / Steve Eckert / Lisa Matthews)

Patoka Township Trustee (Don Astrike / Jeff Summers)

Madison Township Trustee (Scott Blazey / Brett Collignon)

Southwest Dubois School Board (Jason Heile / Belinda Lange)

Greater Jasper School Board (Jimmy Corbin / Ken Schnaus)

Spencer County Roundup


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