The biggest race in the municipal primary Tuesday is that of two Warsaw City Council At-Large seats. There are six Republicans seeking the two-spot nomination for the general election. The winners will face the lone Democrat candidate in November.
The at-large seats are currently held by Cindy Dobbins and Elaine Call. Call is not seeking re-election.
Republican candidates include: Dobbins, Connie L. Fribley, Patrick Loebs, Justin Risner, Juergen L. Voss and Jack Wilhite.
David Baumgartner is the lone Democrat candidate.
Each of the contested candidates was contacted and asked to respond with not only personal information but to three questions. The following, in the order their names will appear on the ballot, are their responses:
Cindy A. Dobbins, the only incumbent in the race, is a gradaute of Warsaw High School with degrees from Ball State and Purdue. She spent 30 years in management positions at Multi-Township EMS, and also served as executive director of Warsaw Community Development Corporation. She currently owns Buffalo Street Emporium and The Next Chapter Bookstore in downtown Warsaw. She has tried to give back to the community in volunteer capacities on boards and committees for several different organizations. The city council is another way for her to stay involved and give back to the community she loves.
Connie L. Fribley. a wife, a mother and a grandmother, has spent the last 30 years working in the corporate world with a very demanding schedule. She is retiring from that position and wants to spend the next phase of her life focusing on her family and giving back to the community.
Patrick Loebs is a professor of communication at Grace College, Winona Lake. He has a Ph.D from the University of Memphis, with his teaching and research revolving around analytical communication, American political discourse and the philosophy of argument. The Minnesota native moved to Indiana to teach at Grace. He feels with a high degree of certainty he could not fine a better community to live and raise his family. He and his wife have two children.
Justin Risner has lived in Warsaw most of his life and attended school in Warsaw. His hobbies include hunting, fishing, spending time with his family, politics and reading. He is employed through Prime Time Manufacturing, a subsidiary of Forest River RV. He states he has excelled at every job he has worked in the past 12/13 years, working almost all trade labor and having others look to him for guidance. He is married.
Jack Wilhite has lived in the Warsaw area most of his life and it a Warsaw graduate. He is a manufacturing engineer for Biomet, where he has been employed since 1978. He has been a member, deacon and elder of First Christian Church, involved in Boy Scouts for 12 years, served as precinct 3-2 committeeman for the Republican party for 12 years. He is also the Indiana GOP 3rd District finance commiee and in his first appointed term to the Wasaw City Board of Zoning Appeals. He and his wife of 40 years have four children and three grandchildern.
Juergen Voss did not respond.
Candidates Answer Questions
Candidates answers to three questions are:
With the acceptance of the city’s comprehensive plan, what is your vision for the city?
Dobbins — “I believe that the comprehensive plan provides an organized and logical approach to managing future growth. The land classification plan should serve as a guide to foster educated decisions about how we want our community to grow. We have to be careful about developing one area at the expense of another and allowing inappropriate development in strategic areas … My vision is that a few years from now we will begin to see more uniformity in our commercial developments. The new comprehensive plan delineates various ideas/projects to help strengthen our residential areas. The Market Street Corridor is one of the first endeavors, but I envision that as quickly as that venture is completed the city will focus on other neighborhoods…”
Fribley — “The comprehensive plan is exactly that, a plan to help set local guidelines to maintain the integrity of the city of Warsaw. But like any plan in the start-up phase, there will be exceptions and deviations as it develops. Maintaining property values and creating safer neighborhoods is paramount for all constituents of the city.”
Loebs — “I believe the comprehensive plan does a wonderful job of detailing some of current obstacles present in the city. Of particular note would be some of the awkward traffic and rail patterns that exist around downtown. I’m glad these are recognized. Were I to add anything to the plan, or focus on certain key components within, it would be fourfold.
“The first focus would be that of maximizing the potential of the lakes for businesses, tourism and the enjoyment of Warsaw citizens…
“Secondly, I would like to see Warsaw embrace the growing bicycle culture…
“Thirdly, I think the idea of a train depot in Warsaw has potential to be a boon to the community…
“Lastly, the Village at Winona Lake has demonstrated what can happen when money, businesses and town policies combine for the purpose of improving underdeveloped properties. There is opportunity for such collaboration in Warsaw, as well…”
Risner — “The comprehensive plan is one of the bills that had me convinced to run for this spot. Most citizens that I have spoken to haven’t even heard of it, let alone read the contents. I have read the Indiana codes that our mayor has based his plan on. The codes give the city of Warsaw complete authority over us in the name of growth. From phasing out well systems even outside of city limits, to forcing renters to allow inspectors in their homes every two years, and even annexation of your land whether or not you approve in the name of growth for ‘Corporate Warsaw.’ The current plan is dumping money in to forced growth and change. That is opposite of my vision. My vision of Warsaw would be to use the resources we already have to get back to the small town atmosphere, and to preserve and conserve the community we all love and know. In the next 20 years, we won’t even recognize this town from the change they plan to carry out.”
Wilhite — “One of the more exciting projects in Warsaw’s future is the North Buffalo Street revitalization project. Our city is faced with the problem of major infrastructure repair on North Buffalo. This problem presents itself as an opportunity to not only fix problems but upgrade the city in a major way to benefit the entire community. The North Buffalo Street project fits neatly into the city’s comprehensive plan.”
What do you see are the strengths and weaknesses of the city?
Dobbins — “We are fortunate to have three lakes, wonderful parks, several sports and cultural venues, good schools and an attractive downtown. Unemployment for the most part has remained lower than that in other areas, and of course the orthopedic industry has had a big impact on employment in the community.
While we have focused on our orthopedic roots, I believe that we can do a better job of branding our community to include all of its attractions.”
Fribley — “Warsaw has historically maintained a financially sound city government, and that is something not many city governments are able to accomplish. The city’s parks and recreational areas are outstanding. But I feel the city still struggles in the search to attract new businesses to the community that are not related to the orthopedic industry.”
Loebs — “Warsaw has many strengths. Its natural resources (lakes, streams, etc.) certainly rank at the top of that list … There is remarkable opportunity for growth as a stopping point for people traveling … Opportunities for expansion abound.
“The weaknesses of the city are common among cities of this size. The first is money. There is always a need for funds. Civil engineering is not cheap. Responsible prioritization of city financial resources is a necessity.
“The other big weakness I see is a general fear of change. Warsaw cannot live in the past. … increasingly younger population of educated professionals who desire and expect different things from a city than did the folks of other generations…”
Risner — “Warsaw has great qualities that attract many people and businesses to the area. We have a great school system, beautiful lakes and parks, and a great positive atmosphere for people to get out and enjoy. We don’t have to change and conform Warsaw in order to attract people here. What hurts Warsaw is the lack of above poverty level wage jobs. I am looking forward to working with the council members and will make it a main objective of mine to find a way to bring in more manufacturing jobs and less fast food and retail jobs.”
Wilhite — “Strengths: Warsaw is a safe, economically sound, community on the move. Being the orthopedic capital of the world has the advantage of a stable growing economy. This economy helps support cultural activities like the Wagon Wheel, Masterworks, concerts in the park, and the Biblical Gardens. For those who enjoy physical activities our quality of life is made better by the diversity of the City-County Athletic Complex, four lakes, a developing Greenway, and two great golf courses. Weakness: Although Warsaw has a vibrant economy driven by dynamic businesses, it faces difficulties drawing corporate management intimately into the community. I am told many would rather live elsewhere and commute two hours a day. Drawing that senior management into our community would further stabilize and build the quality of life for every citizen.”
What projects do you feel the city needs to make a priority?
Dobbins — “Streets, streets, streets, This seems to be a top concern throughout the community. Property tax caps and shrinking MVH revenues have put a crimp in the ability of municipalities to make needed repairs and improvements. Warsaw is working very hard to get back on track, but it will not happen overnight. In the meantime it is important to continue to maintain the roads that have been resurfaced so that we don’t fall further behind.
“Economic development is also a priority. The city has taken the first steps to attracting new industry by developing a certified technology park. The first shell building will soon be complete, and KEDCO is working very hard to attract new industry to the community. Our economic future is dependent on our ability to build more diversity into our economic base.”
Fribley— “I feel that the city’s priority has to be to in economic development. We must maintain existing businesses and jobs, as well as work to attract new business and industry to our community that will provide an above average wage to support future generations of constituents.”
Loebs — “I am a part of the growing demographic of young(ish) professionals who have chosen to make Warsaw home. … If Warsaw is to maintain positive growth and high desirability among that demographic, it should embrace things that this generation cares about. … It means emphasizing smaller, local businesses and more attention on things like the farmer’s market. It means focusing on city changes that enable healthy living, healthy eating, and enjoying the outdoors. It means strong support of education. It means building community pride through property improvement. All this, of course, demands maintaining a business climate that encourages jobs to stay in Warsaw. …”
Risner — “I think the biggest priority should be to get the people of our community more interested with our local government again. I know the mayor and every council member feels the same as I do when we see empty seats or rooms. We, as elected representatives, need to get out and be more active with our community. Standing in line? Why not talk the costumer next to you and give them some insight on what’s going on in the community? I hope for a chance to be a voice for the people and always stand for the Constitution.”
Wilhite — “Of course safety issues should always take priority. That aside I believe it is incumbent for Warsaw to continue making strides addressing current and future infrastructure needs. Projects like Center Park, Parker Street, Market Street, and North Buffalo Street not only address those needs, but package Warsaw in a way the city and realtors can use as a tool to attract future residents and business.”