WARSAW — Three Republicans are vying for two at-large seats on Warsaw City Council Tuesday, May 7.
The following are recaps from the three candidates, incumbents Cindy Dobbins and Jack Wilhite and challenger Juergen Voss.
Dobbins is finishing her second term on city council. She said she originally planned to serve two terms, but did some soul searching earlier this year.
“I felt like I still have the passion and feel like there is still work to be done and perhaps I can still contribute in some small way.”
Dobbins was a longtime leader of Multi-Township EMS that was headquartered in Warsaw. These days, she co-owns Buffalo Street Emporium & Books and and lives in downtown Warsaw. That has positioned her to serve as a voice for small business interest and for the downtown itself.
She said she’s enjoyed seeing some accomplishments while being part of the traffic commission, especially efforts to free up more unlimited parking in the downtown area for workers and those who intend to stay for more than two hours.
“In general, I think the traffic commission has made some great strides in studying different things.”
She served briefly as the director of Warsaw Community Development Corporation and if re-elected, hopes to work with the new coordinator of Warsaw Community Development Corporation, Trisha Steger, on helping fill some of the downtown storefront vacancies.
“I’m actually concerned right now because we have so many vacancies in the downtown,” Dobbins said. “It’s never good when you have a half dozen or more empty buildings. I think the shops that are here are doing well. We’ve managed to survive for nine years, and some of the ladies’ shops are just incredible.”
Off-hand, she said she thinks the downtown could benefit from a good antique store.
“The market is there, we just need to beat the bush to get some additional businesses,” she said.
Wilhite is running for a second term and points to his role in helping establishing a comprehensive live streaming service that allows the public to watch meetings for every city board.
Wilhite, an engineer with Zimmer Biomet, said he became concerned after individuals began recording meetings — mostly city council and the board of works — and wanted to ensure the public has access to an unadulterated version of city meetings.
He talked with Mayor Joe Thallemer about the idea and worked with the mayor’s assistant, Staci Young, to help implement the program that provides a new level of transparency to the city, he said.
Late last year, the city phased in a live streaming program that allows anyone to watch meetings online or later through the city website at their convenience. All meetings are archived for viewing any time. Few Indiana cities the size of Warsaw and even larger can boast of such a service.
It might not be unprecedented, but Wilhite said it’s a forward-thinking program that has resulted in hundreds of people tuning in for certain high-interest meetings.
On other matters, Wilhite said he is pleased to have been part of the effort on city council to open a new fire station for the south side of Wayne Township and take action to expand the sewer plant.
Looking forward, if elected Wilhite said he’d like to revisit the garbage collection program, which was revised several years ago and requires residents who had normally placed garbage in their alleys to move them to the front street on garbage day.
The change in policy was done in part because modern garbage trucks, which are more automated, can’t do the job in alleys.
Wilhite said he’d like to see the city investigate whether a smaller truck with similar functions can be found and whether it would make sense to acquire one.
Voss, the owner of Open Air Garden Center, said he’s running to give voters another option.
Voss said he thinks the city is moving in the right direction and that Mayor Joe Thallemer has done a good job, but is advocating for a fresh voice.
He said he thinks the city needs to address the need for more affordable housing and also thinks the city should work more with landlords to improve properties.
Voss describes himself as a “lifelong common sense conservative Republican” and said he wants to ensure tax dollars are carefully spent.
Has been a real estate broker and previously served on the Warsaw Community School District and the board for Ivy Tech Community College.
He’s been a member of the Warsaw Breakfast Optimist Club since 1978 and has been involved with the Lake City Skiers for many years.