Leave it to a Warsaw resident to come up with a homespun, Midwestern way of showing a presidential candidate some campaign love.
Shelly Gilliland first met South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at a gathering for Congressional candidate Courtney Tritch in Fort Wayne in 2018.
She said she was unfamiliar with Buttigieg before the gathering but was impressed with his introduction of Tritch.
“He spoke so eloquently and it was like, oh my gosh, this guy is for real,” she said.
She then met him during a meet-and-greet. “When I shook his hand, I said, ‘I’m Shelly from Warsaw and when you run for president, I’ll volunteer to work on your campaign.’ “
Flash forward: Gilliland has become enthused about Buttigieg’s run for president. She’s attended several events and even made a quilt – the Scrabble Pete Quilt – fashioned as a scrabble board with words often associated with his campaign. One of the words on the quilt is the pronunciation reminder, “BootEdgeEdge.”
She then took the quilt to a fundraiser in South Bend and a friend of Buttigieg’s showed him the quilt. Buttigieg quickly suggested it be displayed in campaign headquarters in South Bend, she said.
Her support for Buttigieg also led her and a friend to Iowa on Nov. 1 for an arena-sized rally featuring many of the Democratic Party candidates. Buttigieg supporters apparently made up the largest portion of fans at that event and Gilliland said she thinks that that weekend was part of a new surge that has propelled Buttigieg to the top of some polls in Iowa.
She thinks he can sustain the surge and is as qualified as anybody in the field.
While Gilliland admits Buttigieg is still probably a longshot, for right now, “he’s in the top tier.”
* * *
SEEING RED – Apparently Red For Ed, the massive rally for teachers held Tuesday in Indianapolis, did not do anything to improve relations between Warsaw teachers and State Rep. Dave Wolkins, of Warsaw.
A leader of the local teacher’s association took a shot at Wolkins, saying he parrots Republican talking points when it comes to education spending.
Wolkins says all Warsaw teachers were sent an email from Terry Sims, president of the Warsaw Community Education Association, attacking him. The message urges people to contact Wolkins and ask why teachers in Indiana rank last in raises over the past ten years.
Wolkins said he will issue a full response soon. He says the state made more money available and that it was up to the school boards to make salaries a priority. Furthermore, he claims the Warsaw school board chose to shift $15 million from education to operations. “I’d like to know why they did that,” Wolkins said Friday night.
The longtime state lawmaker expressed a willingness to talk with teachers but noted that nobody from the district visited with him while in Indianapolis on Tuesday. He did meet with representatives of Whitko, he said.
“How am I supposed to interact with teachers if they don’t bother to come see me?” he asked.
* * *
ATTACK AND DEFEND – U.S. Rep. Jim Banks offered a full-throated defense of President Donald Trump in an opinion piece posted on Foxnews.com. In it, Banks attempts to shoot down the testimony of numerous people who testified in the past few weeks in the impeachment inquiry.
“Witnesses have given seemingly endless testimony last week and this week, but there is still no evidence of high crimes or misdemeanors by President Trump,” Banks wrote.
* * *
GOOD NEWS – Friday’s announcement about the Warsaw Airport getting a $6.3 million grant is about as good as it gets for local taxpayers. The entire cost of lowering the powerlines on the east side of the airport will be covered with federal money rather than a more standard matching grant approach that can cost cities hundreds of thousands of dollars when they pony up their share.
So how do you top that? I’m told there might be more good news when City Council meets at 4:30 p.m. in a special meeting for a procedural step in finalizing the 2020 budget.