Their vows of more responsibility and engagement came during the only confrontation between Putnam County candidates at the Greencastle League of Women Voters/WGRE radio-sponsored debate in Watson Forum of the DePauw University Media Center.
Democrat Jeffrey Blaydes and independent Charlie Boller not only agreed often on issues like roads and bridges, animal control, homelessness and the possibility of a new courthouse annex but seemed to enjoy each other's company at the podiums. Republican candidate David Berry did not attend the debate.
For example, asked about the commissioners accepting responsibility for the state of the county's roads and bridges, Blaydes and Boller both spoke of the same road.
"As commissioner, we have to take full responsibility for our roads, but no, we're not taking responsibility," Blaydes said, bringing up a county road in the Bainbridge area that has been resurfaced but has never been restriped with a new centerline or lines along the edge of the roadway.
"When it's dark or it's rainy, you can't see where the road ends and tragedy begins," Blaydes said, promising to "make safety a way of life in Putnam County."
While that was but one example, Blaydes acknowledged, "The answer is 'no,' we're not taking responsibility."
Boller agreed, turning to Blaydes to offer, "I know what road you're talking about.
"Even though there's no lines there," he said, "There's a sign that says there's no lines there.
"If we're going to fix roads, we need to fix them right," Boller, a veteran Indiana State Police officer, stressed.
The commissioner candidates were also asked what the county's role should be in a potential homeless shelter in the aftermath of the September 2011 closing of the A-Way Home shelter (which had never received any county money to operate).
"As a police officer, I can tell you it's needed," Boller asserted.
"What the county's role is, people need to work out," Blaydes said, saying that in this day and age in a place like Putnam County, there's "no excuse for having homeless people.
"As an advanced society, people need to have their basic needs met. We need to live up to that."
Boller agreed to an extent.
"We are in a society where it shouldn't be necessary," he said. "But things happen to people that are beyond their control."
Consequently, Boller said, the county needs to have a means to assist its people when something like homelessness occurs.
During the question-answer session with the audience, the issue of the Humane Society, which also closed in 2011, was brought up.
Blaydes equated it with the attention needed toward the homeless issue. "The same effort ought to be made toward animal control," he said. "There needs to be a Humane Society within our county. We need to do that and get right on that."
Boller said he very much favors a Humane Society and hopes that "some good can come out of this" in the loss of two much-needed entities like the homeless and animal shelters.
"It's people who are the problem," Boller said. "People with animals need to be held responsible. Animals aren't the problem, people are the problem."
The county commissioners, Boller said, "have to step up to the plate and say we're going to do this and this is how we're going to do it."
Blaydes and Boller took differing approaches in their closing remarks.
"A major issue of this campaign," the Democrat candidate Blaydes said, "is who's going to be available?"
A year away from retiring from a position with the CSX railroad, Blaydes alluded to the notion he would be the most available to county residents.
"Charlie's going to be working for a long time yet, and (Republican candidate) Dave Berry's not even here," Blaydes concluded.
Boller, who earlier said he would remain a State Police trooper if elected since the commissioner post is not a full-time job, used his closing time to suggest politicians need to pay more attention to job performance than the political process.
He offered up a quote from the movie "The American President," starring Michael Douglas, but was cut off by the moderator when his time expired before he got to the quote.
Blaydes, however, was one of those urging a bending of the rules to allow Boller to finish the comment.
"I want to hear it," his opponent said, adding even more civility to a quite civil proceeding.
Paraphrasing Douglas, Boller recalled the faux president being frustrated during the re-election campaign, saying, "I've spent so much time trying to keep my job, that I forgot to do my job."