Lifelong Huntingburg residents seek trustee dutiesOctober 30, 2018
By CANDY NEAL
Two men are vying to be Patoka Township Trustee.
Voters will decide whether to keep Republican incumbent Don Astrike in the position, or to give Independent challenger Jeff Summers a try.
Both men said they would love to serve township residents in the job.
Astrike, 81, is a lifelong Huntingburg resident. He and his wife, Margie, have three children and two grandchildren. He has been trustee for the past 32 years, and feels that he has learned the job thoroughly through that experience.
“I didn’t have the knowledge when I started. I learned as I went,” he said. “You learn to do what you need to do, and take care of the people’s needs.”
He would like to continue in the position.
“Health-wise, I’m fine. And I enjoy doing it,” he said. “You’re doing things to help people and doing things that need to be done. I get satisfactions out of that.”
Astrike is retired, but he still drives a school bus for the schools in the Southwest Dubois County School District. He has been a driver for the district for the past 50 years.
He said he would like to continue his work in helping township residents. “We have to take care of the township outside the city limits,” Astrike said. “There’s a lot of different things that comes in to the trustee office.”
Along with using the township assistance fund to distribute funding to people who may need help with a bill, he also wants to see through the process of getting a new fire truck for the township; the truck has been ordered, he said.
The township assistance is something Astrike takes seriously. “I work very closely with the churches, too, on this relief,” he said, “to get this job done and do it right.”
Astrike said he hopes voters will re-elect him to the trustee position.
“I’ve got the experience. I’ve got an office that is centrally located, right downtown,” he said. “I’ve never left Huntingburg. Some of the people who come in, I know their families, their parents and their grandparents. So I have a lot of experience of dealing with it over all these years.”
A lifelong Huntingburg resident, Summers, 58, emphasized that Astrike’s performance is not the reason he is seeking the position.
“I’m not running against Don Astrike. I like Don Astrike. I’m running for the job,” Summers said. “I’m running because I think this is a way for me to give back to the community I’ve grown up in. The township trustee is closer to the people than most other government positions. Many government officials are trying to rip people off.”
Summers works in the real estate field. “I’ve been renting apartments for 30 years, so I have a lot of experience with people,” he said. “The hardest part of this job will be distributing the township assistance. But my experience will help me in handling that.”
He has served on different city boards in the past, including the Huntingburg Park Board and Huntingburg Museum Board. Five years ago, he resigned from the museum board after an incident in which he put up a phrase on his business’ sign that contained a derogatory word. He acknowledged and apologized for the mistake at the time.
Currently, along with renting apartments, Summers also owns a school bus and drives for the Southwest Dubois School District.
He said he would donate most of his pay to an agency, like the schools or police department, And along with taking care of the township duties, he would also work to give funding to the Huntingburg Police Department.
“If there is a way they can get some, I’m going to make sure they get it,” he said. “Every call they answer is in the township. The city limits is still part of Patoka Township.”
Summers said he would be accessible to the public. “I’ve got a good location along [U.S.] 231, a nice place for an office,” he said. “People can find me easily.”
He said he would also be very responsible with the township funds.
“Most people who live here who know me, know how tight I am with money,” Summers said. “And I would be just as tight or tighter with their money than I am with my money. It wouldn’t be given away just to anybody. There would have to be a really good reason.”
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