SOUTH BEND -- The candidates for county commissioner in District 3 agreed more than they disagreed Tuesday during a candidate's forum hosted by the American Democracy Project at Indiana University South Bend and held on campus.

On the subject of leaf burning, Republican Marsha McClure, a branch manager at Mutual Bank in Mishawaka, and Democrat Marv Moore, a Realtor and retired business owner, both said that the county should not ban the practice without first instituting some kind of pickup program.

"My personal feeling," said McClure, a member of the Mishawaka Common Council since 2000, "is that if you ban leaf burning you have to provide a remedy for property owners." She noted, however, that she would not necessarily feel comfortable telling people who live in rural areas, away from neighbors, to stop engaging in the practice.

"I agree with Marsha," Moore said. "If you ban the burning of leaves you have to do something to remedy the situation." He suggested the county consider contracting with local landscaping companies to do the job for a fee. The companies could divide the county into quadrants and provide pickup service as needed, he said.

The two candidates also agreed that raising taxes is not the best way to increase revenue in the county. Rather, they said, the county needs to grow its tax base by creating an environment that encourages economic development.

"I do not want to raise (taxes)," McClure said. "We're at the point in the county where citizens are hit with taxes or utility (payments) every time they turn the corner. We need to broaden our tax base."

They both expressed support for vote centers, as well.

"When I first heard the voting places were being changed, I wasn't in favor," McClure said. "But with the cost savings and the ability to move (the centers) around to different places in the county, I think it's a great idea."

"The cost savings are astronomical," agreed Moore. He noted that operating a few dozen vote centers in the county as opposed to hundreds of precinct polling places would require much less manpower.

The two did offer differing opinions on the subject of a possible comprehensive, countywide ban on smoking, including in bars and private clubs.

"My feeling is that if you're gonna have a smoking ban, it needs to be everybody," Moore said. "Otherwise, you're gonna hurt some people's livelihoods."

Said McClure, "I'm not comfortable saying everyone needs to have a smoking ban ... I'm uncomfortable telling people how to run their business."

McClure and Moore are both running to replace the current commissioner in District 3, Democrat Bob Kovach, who is retiring at the end of the year.

The District 2 commissioners seat is also up for grabs this year. Incumbent Democrat Dave Thomas faces a challenge from Republican Michael Thomas in that race.

The American Democracy Project at IUSB hosted Tuesday's forum in partnership with the school's Political Science Club and the local League of Women Voters. The group is hosting a presidential debate watch party tonight from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the River Crossing Community Building on campus.

Staff writer Erin Blasko: eblasko@sbtinfo.com 574-235-6187