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Madison County government boards should be composed of residents of Madison County, as proposed by state Sen. Mike Gaskill, R-Pendleton.

The issue was raised after former Planning Commission member Beth Vansickle cast a yes vote to approve a special exception for the proposed Lone Oak Solar Energy Center in the northern part of the county.

Opponents of the project filed a lawsuit claiming that Vansickle, a nonresident of Madison County, shouldn’t have served on the county boards. Vansickle served on the board due to her position as an extension educator with the Purdue Extension Office.

State law requires that an agricultural extension educator serve on a county planning commission, and sometimes one who resides in the county isn’t available. Hence, there are several counties in the state that have extension educators serving on their planning commissions that aren’t residents of the county in which they serve.

It seems that this has been done as a matter of practical necessity.

Under Gaskill’s proposed legislation, the extension educator must be a resident of the county they serve, and where one isn’t available, a resident will be appointed to serve for one year.

A core principle of American democracy is that a government should be representative of the people. The federal government should be staffed by Americans, the Indiana state government by Hoosiers and so on right down to the local level.

Those who make the decisions should be among the people affected by those decisions.

Regardless of one’s position on the energy park project, those serving on a county board should reside within the county.

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