Two-term mayor Joe Thallemer is not taking his re-election for granted.
Eight years ago, Thallemer was one of four Republicans running for mayor. Four years ago, he was unopposed in his re-election bid. But this year, he’s facing a challenge from the upstart first-term Councilman Ron Shoemaker.
Last week, I gave Shoemaker a chance to espouse a few ideas and answer a few questions, so this week, we’re giving Thallemer the same opportunity.
Thallemer said he’s committed to knocking on more than 1,300 doors before the May 7 primary and said he’s halfway to that goal in a campaign. Unlike past campaigns, social media — especially on Facebook — has reared its ugly side on a handful of local pages.
“To me, that face-to-face is much more reliable and genuine than what I sometimes see on some of these pages,” Thallemer said.
On other issues:
- Plans for a debate via News Now Warsaw are set for 6 p.m. Thursday, April 11, at Lakeview Middle School, but it looks like it will be a one-man show after Shoemaker has opted out and arranged a “listening” event at the Shrine Building at the same time as the debate. Thallemer was asked if it’s unfair to voters won’t have a chance for an up-close comparison. “I do think the voters deserve to hear what the next mayor proposes and the direction the mayor wants to take. That’s just part of being an informed voter and I’m certainly willing to provide that.”
- Thallemer was asked about the eye-opening dust-up between longtime Republican leader Jean Northenor and Police Chief Scott Whitaker a week ago. Whitaker appeared to be badgering Northenor as she tried to clarify her role in a meeting with Thallemer. The 86-year-old Northenor turned it around and told the chief to back off in dramatic fashion. “I don’t think he should have interrupted our speaker. It was her time at the microphone,” Thallemer said.
- After more than seven years in office, Thallemer said he’s built a record of accomplishments for voters to consider. “I’m running on my past performance and what we bring to the table,” Thallemer said. “I feel like the things we’ve done are for everyone, including our tax rates, keeping our utility rates well within the average of Hoosier communities, the parks’ amenities we bring, the downtown amenities.”
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SHOT DOWN — An attempt by State Rep. Curt Nisly to add an amendment to a gun bill backfired Monday. The bill would allow firearms at schools and churches under limited circumstances. Nisly sought to add an amendment to establish the controversial constitutional carry provision in Indiana. Constitutional carry allows residents to carry guns (concealed or open) without requiring a permit. Sixteen other states have embraced the policy.
But Republicans rejected the idea outright and Nisly’s amendment died a quick death after no lawmakers were willing to offer a second to the proposal.
Guy Relford, a gun rights advocate and attorney who has a weekly program on WIBC in Indianapolis, assailed Nisly’s amendment on his radio show last weekend ahead of the proposal. Relford belittled the amendment and Nilsy, who he described as a “bagman” for the National Association for Gun Rights, which is an alternative, more conservative group compared with the National Rifle Association.
Relford called the move “a cheap, childish bull crap publicity stunt” that he contends was an attempt to get lawmakers on record opposing constitutional carry for political purposes down the road. Critics say adding such an amendment at this stage in the session didn’t make sense since lawmakers didn’t have time to assess the fiscal impact of eliminating permit fees. With that in mind, lawmakers were not in a position to really weigh in on the amendment. You can hear Relford’s rant here.
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FISH FRY THOUGHTS — Here are a few observations from Wednesday’s GOP fish fry at the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds:
- Warsaw City Council candidate Josh Finch certainly appears to be a shoo-in, of sorts (pun intended). The Republican District 2 candidate is poised to take the seat of Shoemaker, who opted to run for mayor. Finch won’t face a challenge in the primary and looks to be unopposed in the fall election, creating an “ideal” situation for the political newcomer. He plans to go door-to-door in his district but does not plan to invest in yard signs for this campaign.
- Mayor Thallemer’s campaign made an impression on folks when nearly 40 supporters strolled into the fish fry at 5:30 sporting campaign shirts.
- Former City Councilwoman Trish Brown attended the fish fry and said she’s found an interesting new job. She’s executive director at Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in Albion. The non-profit group is home to nearly 100 exotic animals, none of which are political.
- GOP Chairman Mike Ragan said Wednesday’s turn out likely matched or exceeded last year’s event when three US Senate candidates and four sheriff candidates were the main attraction.
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A PERSONAL NOTE — Since establishing Poli (Sigh) eight weeks ago, I’ve had numerous people tell me they think my writing style (their words, not mine) has changed a bit compared to my previous work under the now-defunct Potpourri column with my previous employer. I would argue it is no more edgy or pushy than what I wrote before, but I can tell you I feel energized and excited every week about bringing readers a few political tidbits they can digest on Saturday mornings.
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Dan Spalding covers city government and politics for InkFreeNews. He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.