Republican mayoral candidate Ron Shoemaker received an endorsement from Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese Thursday, April 18.
Neese endorsed the primary challenger to Mayor Joe Thallemer in a 16-second video posted on Shoemaker’s campaign Facebook page Thursday. In it, Neese refers to Shoemaker as a good friend but does not offer any other reasons why Shoemaker should be mayor.
Neese defeated incumbent Democrat Dick Moore in 2015 but is not seeking re-election. His administration has been the subject of a police brutality scandal, and the former state lawmaker has struggled to gain much cooperation from his Republican-led city council.
The key denominator in this connection appears to be Kyle Babcock, a Shoemaker supporter who ran for mayor in 2011 and helped manage Neese’s campaign four years ago.
Thallemer has, for the most part, ignored Shoemaker’s campaign, but openly accused Shoemaker and his supporters of copying his campaign logo and reposting with “ludicrous” photos in an attempt to make it look legit. “Please know that it is not from me or my team — we will not stoop that low,” Thallemer said on his campaign facebook page.
Meanwhile, Shoemaker appears to be distancing himself from local media. He’s quit returning phone calls from me and apparently is not working with other local reporters. Instead, he’s relying on one-on-one meeting with voters (requiring an RSVP), his websites and support from the much-maligned Warsaw Community Facebook page.
One key player continues to e Chad Zartman, who’s been a part of Warsaw Community. Zartman doesn’t live in the city, but he has rental properties in Warsaw and has emerged as the face of opposition to Thallemer since the city changed its garbage collection policy a few years ago. He’s the one behind the “Crooked Joe” sign on Center Street and been seen putting up Shoemaker signs and also reportedly hassled at least one person for having a Thallmer sign in their yard.
PLACK FACTOR — Last week, Poli (Sigh) reported that Chris Plack, a longtime Republican supporter, is considering an independent campaign run and will make a decision after the Republican primary on May 7. Two days later, on Monday, K-County GOP Chair Mike Ragan made a point to pull Plack aside following the Warsaw City Council. Ragan said he encouraged him to consider running another time. “He is under no obligation to me or the Republican Party, but we’d love to have him on our side,” Ragan said Friday night.
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GOP EVENT — The Republican Lincoln Day dinner in Kosciusko County will be held Thursday, May 2, at 2517 Event Center in Warsaw. Along with a spotlight on some primary races, the keynote speaker will be U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, of the 3rd District. He’ll be introduced by WOWO radio personality Pat Miller. U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, of the 2nd District, is also expected to attend. Tickets are available, according to Mike Ragan.
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TEN TIMES? — Democratic City Council Candidate Jack Brunetto is especially critical of city’s purchase price for a small triangular tract of land at the intersection of West Center and West Market streets that is being developed as a park by the Rotary Club.
The land was acquired by the city from Chandler Williams (co-publisher of the Times-Union) and George Clemens, (a friend of Mayor Thallemer who sits on the board of works and safety). The sale price of $15,000 was agreed upon after the city had the land appraised, and Thallemer said they received a good deal on the purchase.
Brunetto, though, claimed Wednesday at a public event at Warsaw Community Public Library that the city paid ten times as much as it should have. Brunetto faces City Council President Diane Quance in the general election. “I can’t imagine who would appraise it at $15,000 other than the city itself,” Brunetto said Friday. He did agree that developing the land as a trailhead park is a good idea.
The owners’ tax bill for the final full year in 2016 was $429, according to Beacon.
The trailhead park is being constructed with private donations and grant money. Organizers are hoping to finish construction this summer in time to celebrate the Rotary Club’s 100-year anniversary this summer.
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POLL RESULTS — A belated congrats to Chris Kehler (who once represented me nearly a quarter century ago in a legal matter) for his appointment to serve as the first judge of the future Superior Court 4. Not that it really matters, but Kehler was the top choice in last week’s InkFreeNews unscientific poll asking who would be the best choice to head up the court. He topped Chad Miner, Rob Bishop and Lindsey Grossnickle. Kehler attracted 27 percent of the vote. A large number of respondents, 24 percent, were unsure who to support. The other three candidates received a smaller share of the votes.
On a related note, this week’s poll asked if Democrat Pete Buttigieg is a top tier presidential candidate. Given the preponderance of local residents who lean strongly to the right, it’s worth noting that 46 percent (as of Friday) said yes while 51 percent said no and only 3 percent were undecided. Buttigieg will be one of five presidential candidates featured Monday, April 22, in a CNN town hall meeting. Others include Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Dan Spalding covers city government and politics for InkFreeNews. He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.