KOSCIUSKO — When it comes to 2018 township trustee and board elections, almost half of the candidates in Kosciusko County face competition. Wayne, the largest township in the county, is one of those areas.
Republican candidates for the Advisory Board are Gordon Nash, Josh Spangle, and Bruce Woodward. The Republican candidate for the position of Wayne Township Trustee is Jeanie Stackhouse.
Democrat candidates for the Advisory Board are Laura Deal-Decker, Jim Falkiner, and Lori Roe. The Democrat candidate for the position of Wayne Township Trustee is Shari Benyousky.
Nash has worked with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department for 33 years and currently works as a transportation officer for the department. He is married and has two children and two grandchildren. Nash also serves on the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory Board. This is Nash’s second election as a Wayne Township Board member.
“We make sure the needs of the community are met without going against levies,” said Nash. “And we’re very responsible with the taxpayers’ money and continue to protect that money.”
Nash said that the community and township is moving in a positive direction. He discussed the importance of the new fire station for the township.
“We’ve just been blessed,” said Nash. “Due to the good economy, the request for township assistance is down.”
Nash said he will continue to carefully observe the trustee’s work while serving as a Wayne Township Advisory Board member.
No photo was provided for publication.
Spangle has worked as a law enforcement officer with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department for 16 years. He currently serves as Detective Sergeant and works as the department’s only crime scene technician.
He also formerly served as Monroe Township Trustee for six years.
“In this role I developed skills in managing the budget process,” said Spangle. “Through this experience I learned how township funds should be managed and spent by the trustee’s office, while building meaningful relationships.”
Spangle said one issue Wayne Township is currently struggling with is growth.
“Our city and township with its small town feel is starting to see more of the big city issues,” said Spangle, focusing on homelessness in the area. “The trustee’s office is obligated to help these individuals and families find the resources to help them get back on their feet. It is in the best interest of the trustee’s office and community if a long-term individualized plan is developed for those seeking assistance. I can use my experience as a former trustee and the relationships I have developed in the community to provide common sense based and financially sound solutions to the needs and issues facing the Wayne Township Trustee’s office.”
Woodward is a native of Kosciusko County and has spent 39 years in Wayne Township. For the last 31 years, Woodward has been a professional property manager, managing over 80 unique properties in the Warsaw area. He is an active member of the Warsaw Rotary Club and a past member of the Warsaw Morning Optimists. Woodward is also a member of the Kosciusko Board of Realtors, having served on the Board of Directors in the past. He has served on the mayor’s housing task force and as past president of the Warsaw Board of Zoning Appeals. Woodward is currently president of the Kosciusko Redevelopment Commission.
When asked about the greatest issue Wayne Township is currently facing, Woodward commented on the accessibility of the trustee’s office.
“The office does need to create a more affirmative or positive profile,” said Woodward. “We will determine more avenues to contact the trustee’s office via Internet portals and social media, as well as accessible hours. We will work to create or promote programs to help curb the number one social problem in our environment: alcohol and drug addictions.”
Stackhouse has lived most of her adult life in Warsaw. She has worked the past eight years as an investigative clerk at the Wayne Township Trustee’s office. She also has worked as a cashier at Martin’s Supermarket for the past six years. Stackhouse has three children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“If elected, my plan is to cement my relationships with local organizations to combat the homeless issues we have in Wayne Township,” said Stackhouse. “We are very limited in choices for emergency shelter.”
Stackhouse said the biggest issue she has witnessed while working at the trustee’s office is the township’s lack of emergency shelter options.
“Fellowship Missions is a wonderful facility and we are very fortunate to have it in our community; however many times it is filled to capacity,” said Stackhouse. “I plan to work with local organizations to help with this problem. Giving the homeless shelter will hopefully help them make a plan to get back on their feet without having to worry about where they will sleep.”
Deal-Decker has worked as a social worker for 17 years. She earned her Bachelor’s of Social Work at Grace College and her Master’s at Andrews University.
“I’ve worked with low-income individuals in the area since the year 2000,” said Deal-Decker. “I’m working with people all the time that are trying to figure out how to survive. And those people do have interactions with the trustee’s office.”
When asked about the main issue Wayne Township is struggling with, Deal-Decker focused on housing.
“Housing is a big deal because it touches all populations,” Deal-Decker said. “Rent is so high that a good portion of their income is going to housing. If everything they have is going to rent, it’s just not sustainable.”
Deal-Decker emphasized the importance of the trustee’s office having a positive and productive interaction with all residents who seek aid from the township.
“Regardless of the situation, everybody should be treated with dignity and respect,” said Deal-Decker. “I think there’s a lot you can do with that interaction. The interaction between a trustee or board member and a resident should always be focused on what’s best for the person in need.”
James (Jim) Falkiner
Falkiner has 29 years of experience as a business executive within the food manufacturing industry. He earned his Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame. From 2006 to 2015, Falkiner was a professor of entrepreneurial studies at Manchester University.
He stressed the importance of providing proper financial oversight in order for the community to become stronger.
“I think the board has a great responsibility to communicate proactively with the residents of the township,” said Falkiner. “How do people find out that things are agreed upon or planned for with their tax money? The township needs a multi-platform approach to what happens during township board meetings.”
When asked about the main issue Wayne Township is struggling with, Falkiner focused on the accountability and responsibility of the township trustee.
“It takes a willingness to work together,” Falkiner said. “The trustee could be a powerful partner for the non-profit community and for all the different agencies in town. This is an opportunity that has not been taken advantage of. It doesn’t take cash, it takes partnership.”
Roe is a professor at Ivy Tech Warsaw. She has lived in the area for 18 years and has two children in the Warsaw school system. She has a Master of Arts in Communication and EDs in adult education.
“Since I have experience in communication, I want to help the trustee’s office establish a better connection with the public,” said Roe. “The office currently has no website or Facebook page, and several of Warsaw’s boards and councils have a site. It’s time for the trustee’s office to jump into the times and let people know what the township trustee and board is doing.”
When asked about the main issue Wayne Township is currently struggling with, Roe discussed childcare, access to education, and transportation.
“We need to investigate how the trustee’s office can help people struggling with these issues,” said Roe.
Roe also mentioned the cohesiveness of her fellow Democrat candidates.
“We registered separately to run for this election, and we ended up working very well together,” said Roe. “In the last eight months, I’ve learned a lot about local government.”
Benyousky has worked for 25 years as an English adjunct instructor at several local colleges, including Ivy Tech Warsaw and Purdue Fort Wayne. She received her Bachelor’s of Arts at Grace College and her master’s degree from the University of Central Florida.
If elected as Wayne Township Trustee, Benyousky said that in her first 30 days of office, she intends to connect even more with the community.
“I feel that the most important thing is to work with creating something that interacts with the public more, like a website,” said Benyousky. “I want to put together an informational clearinghouse that helps a person who need assistance.”
Benyousky also discussed that the position of township trustee requires proactivity.
“I think a proactive trustee can help groups run in the same direction,” said Benyousky.
Benyousky focused on having an open house for the township trustee office, allowing people to come to the office and see what the facilities are like.
“We want to learn the best ways to facilitate,” Benyousky said. “If the community doesn’t understand how the office works, then they can’t really give good feedback for what they want to see change or happen in the community.”