Council member resigns after moving

BROWNSTOWN

As an officer with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and a member of the Brownstown Town Council, Dustin Steward has been a servant of the community in many ways.

But after 3½ years, his time with the council has come to an end because he is moving out of Ward 5, which covers the southern part of the county seat.

“As time went on, my kids got bigger, we had more kids (three), and we outgrew our house. We’re just out of space,” Steward said of moving to nearby Vallonia.

“I did not want to give up my spot (on the council),” he said. “But we came across something that we had to do. I had to do this for my family. Family comes first.”

Steward’s last council meeting was Monday. The town’s precinct committee members soon will conduct a caucus to vote on someone to take Steward’s place for the remainder of the year. The date for the caucus has not been set.

Once it is set, Ward 5 residents interested in that seat will be able to apply and send Jackson County Republican Party chairwoman Melissa Acton a letter of interest.

Republican Sally Cate Lawson was the only person to file a declaration of candidacy for the Ward 5 seat, so she will run unopposed in the Nov. 3 general election.

Town residents will vote for council members in that election.

In April, Ben Lewis had to resign his Ward 2 seat when he moved out of his ward. Bethany Brewster filled his spot and will remain there through the end of the year. She will face Democrat Jim Weesner Jr. in the general election.

Steward’s term on the council begin in 2012.

One of the accomplishments during his tenure was getting the former feed mill in the downtown area torn down. The town now is working to erect a stage and green space there to be used by the public and for events, including the Jackson County Watermelon Festival.

Earlier this summer, a farmers market started in that area.

“Now, the town will be able to use that for a stage and whatever else they are doing,” Steward said. “They’ll be able to do a lot more. They’ll build a stage there, and it will be huge for the watermelon festival.”

Another big project was constructing sidewalks along Bridge Street to give people access to the town pool and park. The sidewalks also are handicap-accessible.

“It’s all brand-new because there was no sidewalk from the pool to the park,” he said. “That was huge.”

During Steward’s tenure, the council also approved the addition of a sixth officer with the town’s police department and picked up more reserve officers.

Steward said he liked attending council meetings twice a month and discussing issues with his fellow council members.

“I know sometimes it takes spending a little bit of money, and maybe not everybody likes that, but we’re getting things taken care of,” he said. “Not everybody agrees on the same thing, which is perfect; it’s absolutely perfect.”

He also liked hearing from the public at the meetings and out in the community.

“That’s what I am used to, and I love it,” he said of interacting with the public. “I love being able to find the happy medium and help them. Obviously, you can’t make everybody happy. But I really do enjoy being able to help them out with their concerns because you can do that being on the council and especially being an officer, to use the power that we have to help people and really just make sure people are taken care of.”

Steward will remain in his full-time job with the sheriff’s department, where he has worked for more than 13 years, including the past 10½ as an officer.

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.