With Primary Election Day just three days away, here are four questions to consider for the Warsaw mayoral race between Republican incumbent Joe Thallemer and challenger Ron Shoemaker, a member of city council:
- Will Shoemaker’s refusal to debate Thallemer hurt his standing with voters?
- To what degree will Police Chief Scott Whitaker and the fallout from the Jan. 25 incident be a referendum on Thallemer?
- Will Chad Zartman’s close association to the Shoemaker campaign help or hinder Shoemaker? Zartman has driven much of the online political conversation, but he’s also annoyed lots of folks with his inaccurate bombast. And there’s that police investigation (see below).
- How will the racetrack lawsuit at the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds affect the election?
Shoemaker has aligned himself with supporters of the track and his biggest financial support has come from some of those who support expanded racing at the fairgrounds. Shoemaker has avoided saying how many races would be appropriate if a compromise could be reached. Race track supporters have rallied behind Shoemaker mainly because Thallemer lives on Winona Lake near the fairgrounds and they have cast him as an enemy even though Thallemer tried to broker a compromise. I guess the answer to this final question depends on how many racetrack supporters live in the city and cast votes Tuesday.
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LINCOLN DAY NOTES — A few leftover notes from Thursday’s GOP Lincoln Day Dinner in Warsaw:
- Indianapolis attorney John Westercamp, from Zionsville, is considering challenging Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill next year. His stop in Kosciusko County Thursday marked the 32nd county he’s visited as he “explores” his chances. He works for Bose McKinney & Evans in Indianapolis and said he wants to make sure Dems don’t have a chance next year to capitalize on Hill’s politically-weakened stature after a handful of groping allegations.
- Congressman Jim Banks, the keynote speaker, touted President Donald Trump’s robust economy and noted the 3rd Congressional District has the most manufacturing jobs per capita of any congressional district in the nation. He also chided Congressional Democrats for going after US Attorney General William Barr in a Congressional hearing Wednesday. If that’s all they got, he said, they’ve got nothing.
- Former Congressman Marlin Stutzman was warmly received and had a long chat with Banks, who replaced him in Congress when Stutzman attempted a run for U.S. Senate.
OTHER RACES — There’s a few other primary challenges to watch for in Tuesday’s election. In the Warsaw at-large race, incumbents Cindy Dobbins and Jack Wilhite face challenger Juergen Voss. In Winona Lake, incumbent Theila “Tecy” Banta faces James Zachary in the Ward 1 race. In Syracuse, incumbent clerk-treasurer Paula E. Kehr-Wicker faces Virginia A. Cazier.
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END OF AN ERA — Former County GOP Chair Jean Northenor had kinds words in remembrance of her good friend, Sen. Richard Lugar, who died Sunday.
She said Lugar stood out as the kindest, most caring leader in the nation that she considered a friend. “It’s a shame there are not a few more like Sen. Lugar out there to help get through some of this stuff we’re messing around with,” Northenor said.
Lugar’s death comes just weeks after another memorable Indiana Senator, Birch Bayh, passed away. Northenor said she never met Birch Bayh, but appreciated his work. Ironically, she had been presented with a Sagamore of the Wabash by his son, then-Gov. Evan Bayh. Northenor agreed with others who have said the passing of Bayh and Lugar represent the end of an era.
“I’m afraid it is,” Northenor said. “He and Lugar certainly … seem to be the end of an era of reaching across that party line and working for the good of the people of the country rather than for their own power base.”
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TORT CLAIM INACCURACIES — A news release about a tort claim notice announced by landlord Chad Zartman Monday in reaction to the seizure of his two phones on March 28 contained two large errors. Zartman is being investigated by Indiana State Police for identity deception. Zartman’s attorney, Mario Massillamany, announced the tort claim notice in a news release Monday — one week before the mayoral primary.
Zartman claims Mayor Thallemer convinced county prosecutor Dan Hampton, Superior Court Joe Sutton and State Police to initiate a search warrant that led to the seizure of two cell phones.
The press release erroneously said the seizure happened during a city council meeting (it happened afterward) and that the search warrant was prepared after the seizure (a copy of the search warrant Zartman gave InkFree weeks ago shows it was approved two days earlier).
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RACIST? REALLY? — On Thursday night, the Warsaw Community Facebook, a big supporter of Shoemaker, called the mayor a racist in a stunning post that is probably a low point in the campaign.
Thallemer issued a statement Friday morning that read (in part): “In spite of being lied about and even called a racist by Mr. Shoemaker’s defacto campaigns’ social media arm, I will continue to only have a positive and forward-thinking campaign, because not only is that Good For Warsaw, but it is what Warsaw deserves.”
Shoemaker, meanwhile, remained silent amid the clamor.
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EVOLVING PLANS — Shoemaker’s Monday “rally,” which was later termed as a private strategy meeting for supporters, changed in terms of time (from 6 p.m. Monday to 6:30 p.m.) and location (from the Shrine Building to an apartment complex) in the final hours prior to the event. Two people were at the Shrine building providing maps to the apartment complex. I’m told at least one person who went to the new location was turned away. In that instance, Shoemaker offered to talk later to him by phone.
Dan Spalding covers city government and politics for InkFreeNews. He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.