WARSAW — An invite to attend the monthly meeting held by Democrats in Warsaw led to a spontaneous political pitch on Wednesday by Republican Chris Plack who is running as an independent for a city council seat this fall.
In a rather unique moment Tuesday night, May 14, at a Democratic Party meeting at Mad Anthony’s in Warsaw, Democratic Party Chairman Brian Smith acknowledged the presence of Plack, who earlier in the day announced plans to run as an independent for the District 2 city council seat against the Republican nominee Josh Finch.
Plack then made a quick, passionate appeal for all district voters to consider his candidacy.
“One of the things that’s motivated me to get into this fight is I am tired of the single party monopoly in the community. For us to succeed in our community … every single person needs to be involved and be heard and that has not occurred,” Plack told the crowd of Democrats. “I think you will find we agree a lot more than what we disagree on,” Plack said.
Plack noted that voters have not had a say in District 2 since 2011 when the late Charlie Smith was elected. Smith died shortly before the 2015 election. Ron Shoemaker was appointed by a GOP caucus to fill out the remainder of the term and then in another caucus for the new term.
Plack referred to the fact three caucus members made the appointment. In a prior online post, Plack called the move corrupt and suggested a special election should have been called.
GOP Chair Mike Ragan said he took offense to Plack’s reference to the caucus process being corrupt. If he has a problem with the process, his fight should be directed toward the state, Ragan said.
Plack’s desire to enter into the city campaign surfaced weeks ago despite a cautioning from Ragan, who urged him to get involved with the party now and look at options as a Republican candidate next year.
Ragan said Plack asked if he would be burning bridges with the local party if he ran as an independent. Ragan’s reply was “likely.”
“I think he’s making a huge mistake if he wants to remain a Republican. If it’s not about philosophy and it’s just because you want to be on the ballot, I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to me,” Ragan said Thursday, May 16.
Finch, 30, acknowledged the challenge he now faces when contacted following Plack’s announcement. He downplayed any apparent benefit he might enjoy by being the party’s nominee but said he’s appreciated the support from Mayor Joe Thallemer, Clerk-Treasurer Lynne Christiansen and council members Cindy Dobbins, Jack Wilhite, Mike Klondaris and Jeff Grose, who he said have been helpful in helping get acclimated to city budgets and related issues.
“I view that potentially as an advantage much more than simply, ‘I’m a Republican so it’s a shoo-in.’ I’m not operating under those assumptions at all,” Finch said.
Finch said Plack called him early last week to let him know he would soon be announcing his intentions to run. Finch said they both pledged to run a clean campaign. “I welcomed it. Competition is great. I think giving the people multiple viewpoints is great. I don’t think that’s been the case in the past for the people of Warsaw and specifically for the people in District 2,” Finch said.
Brian Smith was asked about a Republican running as an independent and speaking before a gathering of Democrats. “We’re an open door,” Smith said.
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DEM PARTY NOTES — Other candidate notes from the Dem party meeting:
- Sarah McNeal Strahan-Lenfesty, who is running against incumbent Republican Jeff Grose in District 1, has organized two upcoming events. At 4 p.m. Thursday, May 23, there will be a “Pathways to Home Ownership” discussion at the Warsaw Community Public Library featuring a talk with a representative of Coldwell Banker.
- She is also touting plans for a Juneteenth festival celebrating the emancipation of slaves. The event is set for June 19 at the Shrine Building. Music and soul food will be available. The event is organized by the law office of Travis J. McConnell. To learn more, go to the event’s Facebook page. (This item has been edited to reflect who is organizing the event.)
- Roxanne Coffelt, who faces Republican incumbent Michael Klondaris in the race for the District 3 race, told attendees she plans to knock on all doors in the district before the voter registration deadline arrives on Oct. 7.
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RAGAN REACTION — GOP Chair Ragan underscored how much he disliked the negative campaigning in this month’s mayoral primary between incumbent Joe Thallemer and Ron Shoemaker. Without prompting, Ragan told me he asked Chad Zartman and Kyle Babcock to cease the negative online attacks, which he believes are more hurtful than effective on the local level. The attacks were a disservice to the candidates, he said.
”People who had axes to grind were too heavily involved in Ron’s campaign,” Ragan said, adding “I don’t like people trying to pick my enemies.”
Thallemer won the primary by a 63-37 margin.
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GET FROGGY WITH IT — Both political parties are using the LillyPad boat at the Frog Tavern in Syracuse for campaign events this year. Democrats will gather on Sunday, June 23, marking the third consecutive year they’ve taken a ride on the LillyPad. State Rep. Karlee Macer, who was first elected in 2012 and broke through A Republican stronghold in Speedway, will be the main speaker. She is the assistant minority leader in the House,
Republicans will have their annual Hall of Fame Dinner on the boat on Sept. 11, with a 9/11 theme.
Dan Spalding covers city government and politics for InkFreeNews.
He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.