WARSAW — Ron Shoemaker was elected in a bifurcated Republican Caucus for Warsaw District 2 Council seat Thursday evening. The caucus was to fill the unfinished term, through Dec. 31, of the late Charlie Smith and to fill that seat for the next four years starting Jan. 1.
Shoemaker, who serves on the city’s board of zoning appeals, was elected over his opponent James W. Maze, owner of Ace Hardware, by the three eligible Precinct Committeemen: Tyler Huffer, Warsaw Precinct 5-3; Mayor Joe Thallemer, Warsaw Precinct 2-1; and Shoemaker, Precinct 2-2.
Shoemaker will not only serve Smith’s remaining term of office, but was also elected to fill the new term won by “candidate deceased” in the Municipal Election, Nov. 3.
“Tonight is really bittersweet, I wish Charlie were here, but we need to go on. I love Warsaw. We have a great mayor and a great city council and I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and working with them now to try to make Warsaw even a better place to live and work,” said Shoemaker. Shoemaker is also chairman of the 3rd District Finance Committee.
The caucus was chaired by county Republican chairman Randy Girod who stated it was a melancholy caucus. Most caucuses are held when a board member moves or retires, or moved up the political ladder. During a brief tribute to Smith, Girod stated “I just want to tell him thank you. He devoted his heart and soul to this community. I had lunch with him once, but I think I would be correct in telling you Charlie would say don’t dwell on the past, lets focus on the future.”
Jack Wilhite, newly elected city councilman, presented information about Shoemaker to the caucus attendees.
Shoemaker was raised in Warsaw, graduated in 1966 from Warsaw Community High School and attended Indiana University. In his early 20s he entered the orthopedic industry in Warsaw with Depuy. Later he accepted a position with Zimmer in Minneapolis, Minn. HowMedica recognized his talents and he became an orthopedic distributor for them with territories in Ohio and West Virginia.
He became interested in politics when he was a member of the Kosciusko County Young Republicans. His early experience is highlighted by a trip to Rensselaer with now city attorney Mike Valentine. While there they met Indiana Congressman Charles Halleck and President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
While in Ohio, interaction with a Fairfield Ohio County County Commissioner made him realize the man was not serving the public properly. Shoemaker made his first bid for public office and defeated the 12-year incumbent. In his first year as commissioner, Shoemaker was elected chairman and led the council from debt to almost a $1 million surplus the first year.
The River Valley mall project is an example of Shoemaker’s innovative leadership. The developer approached the commissioners for help with sewer lines to the project. Under Shoemaker’s leadership a plan was devised to enable the mall to be built, turning the area into a large retail district providing close to 1,500 jobs.
He has a daughter, Kristen, and a son “half-court” Ronnie and a granddaughter, Brooklyn.
Shoemaker read a letter written by Smith when Shoemaker was elected Warsaw District 2-2 Precinct Committeeman in May 2012. He read: “I support and promote Ron Shoemaker for district 2-2 as our Precinct Committeeman. Ron was appointed by the chairman of our Republican Party to serve the remainder of this term thus illustrating the party’s support of Ron’s qualifications … Ron is devoted to Warsaw and desires to enhance the public awareness of the importance of each citizen’s right to vote. Ron is volunteering to serve in this capacity to help Warsaw remain a vibrant community … ” Shoemaker continued stating “I really appreciated Charlie’s support and I appreciate our friendship and your support. I will work hard to make you proud.”