In a quick interview Friday morning, Republican mayoral challenger Ron Shoemaker offered a few thoughts on various issues.
- First off, the first-term city councilman confirmed he will not participate in the April 11 debate against Mayor Joe Thallemer, essentially because it doesn’t include a role for the Republican Party. The News Now Warsaw debate at Lakeview Middle School will go on as scheduled, starting at 6 p.m., and a second podium will be available in case Shoemaker reconsiders. That’s not likely since Shoemaker has organized an alternative event for the same time at the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds.
- Asked about Thursday’s combative outburst between Jean Northenor and Police Chief Scott Whitaker, Shoemaker called the exchange stunning. He said he thought Council President Diane Quance or Mayor Thallemer should have stepped in to restore order. “I would like to see more control of our meetings,” Shoemaker said.
- Shoemaker also unveiled an economic proposal on his campaign Facebook page (see above) but has not issued a news release to further supplement his plans. On Friday, he said more needs to be done to stem the loss of store closings.
- Shoemaker proposed city council retain an attorney available for future use. Talk of retaining an attorney surfaced when council tossed around the idea of hiring somebody to look into the Whitaker matter, which it ultimately decided against. Shoemaker points out he is not calling for an investigation, but adds, “There’s been several instances that we could have been made better decisions being guided by an attorney.” He said the practice is standard in other cities.
In response, Thallemer said the existing Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation already includes solid representatives of the business sector and that its director, Alan Tio, who began work last year, is regarded as one of the finest in the state. Furthermore, the two-term mayor said he disagrees with the notion of a city-centric development outlook, which he said would limit the effectiveness of existing economic development efforts.
He said he has no disagreement with the idea of council having its own legal representative.
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SAVE THE DATES – Democratic candidates for Warsaw City Council at 5:15 p.m. April 17 at Warsaw Community Public Library. Sara McNeal Strahan Lenfestey, who faces incumbent Republican Jeff Grose (District 1), is organizing the event. She’s invited fellow Dems Jack Brunetto, who will face Republican Diane Quance (District 5), and Roxanne Coffelt, who will face Republican Michael Klondaris (District 3).
The three Dem candidates represent the strongest showing for the party in many election cycles in city politics.
Meanwhile, Republicans will gather Wednesday, April 3, at the Shrine Building for their annual fish fry. The event runs from 4 to 7 p.m., according to K-County Republican Chairman Mike Ragan. The public is welcome.
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POLITICAL DEVELOPER — Real estate developer Dave Matthews, who is behind the Buffalo Street project in Warsaw, is running for political office in South Bend, where he has several urban residential developments. Matthews is one of three Democratic city council candidates running for the District 4 seat.
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WITCH HUNT? — Two area members of Congress were quick to weigh in on the Mueller investigation, basing their opinions on the four-page summary by U.S Attorney General William Barr.
Second District Rep. Jackie Walorski, in a prepared statement, said, “This exhaustive, two-year investigation of Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election has concluded there was no collusion by President Trump or his campaign. Now it is time to move on from divisive conspiracy theories and partisan rhetoric.”
Third District Rep. Jim Banks was a bit more fervent and wrote in part: “President Trump has been exonerated from the witch hunt over collusion, but now I hope he will swiftly turn his sights to show leadership in holding Russia accountable for attacking our American institutions. Congress as well should shift away from bogus investigations and instead turn toward passing tough measures to address Russia’s activities and taking action to make the lives of every Hoosier and American better.”
Banks seems to toe the line somewhere between it being a witch hunt and something worthwhile. In August of last year, he told a Warsaw crowd at the fairgrounds that he believed “the investigation is important.”
Dan Spalding covers city government and politics for InkFreeNews. He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.