SILVER LAKE – Republican Craig Snow, a Warsaw resident seeking election as State Representative for District 18, is quickly collecting some key endorsements.
Snow announced his intentions on Jan. 15 and received two endorsements ten days later on Friday from mayors of the two biggest cities in the district, Warsaw and Wabash. He’s also picked up support from the Warsaw Schools superintendent and one of the leading Republican leaders in the General Assembly.
The 51-year old former Winona Lake Town Councilman who is chairman of the board of the Silveus Insurance Group, Inc., was joined by Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer and Wabash Mayor Scott long for an announcement Friday, Jan. 23, at the Omega’s Family Restaurant south of Silver Lake.
Snow is one of three candidates to file candidacy paperwork in hopes of replacing Republican Dave Wolkins who recently announced plans to retire at the end of this year.
Thallemer and Long said they need somebody in the statehouse who will listen to and consider supporting a range of issues important to cities and towns.
“I truly feel like he’s got the skills and intelligence to really make a difference,” Thallemer said.
Long said municipalities continue to worry about any attempts by the legislature “to circumvent local control and hurt their ability to function and get things done.”
Laws passed by the General Assembly to benefit one city sometimes have unintended consequences on other communities.
“We’re cognizant of that. We need a representative that’s going to be a voice for us on those issues,” Long said.
Cities need lawmakers who will guard against efforts by some lawmakers to erode municipal powers involving annexation and tax increment finance policies.
Thallemer said Wolkins and State Sen. Ryan Mishler don’t always agree on all issues with city officials, “but I feel like they listen and base their decisions on what the constituents want. And I can’t say that’s always true with everybody.”
Thallemer said he thinks Snow will work with them even though they might not see eye-to-eye on all legislation.
“I know he’ll listen. I know he’s thoughtful enough that he’ll take that information and make the best decision – hopefully with the two largest communities in his district would like to see done,” Thallemer said.
Snow has also picked up the support of Bremen State Sen. Ryan Mishler, who is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Snow said Mishler endorsed him, but that Mishler did not issue a prepared statement.
Snow also gained the support of Warsaw schools superintendent Dr. David Hoffert and his wife, Dr. Rachael Hoffert, who teaches at Grace College full-time. Public endorsements from school superintendents are rare, but education has become a top issue for many Hoosiers.
Hoffert said they are glad to personally endorse candidates “who share our priorities and values.”
“Both my wife and I personally endorse Craig Snow. We have known Craig and his family for a number of years. He is a man of high moral and ethical character. He has a heart for our local community, education and leadership development, Hoffert said in an email statement.
Snow said he has no agenda but admits education is near the top of his priority list.
“My wife is a school teacher so I’m a little biased. Eduction seems to rise to the top of my mind, but there’s a lot of issues in our community.”
Snow said he plans to meet with teachers and school administrators to hear their concerns.
Overall, as Snow settles into the campaign, he said he’s focused on listening to constituents and learning more about issues and the legislative process.
He repeatedly said he has a lot to learn.
He pointed to the opioid crisis and applauded Kosciusko County’s jail program, JCAP – one of the first in the state – to establish an in-house drug rehab program for inmates.
Snow said he is becoming involved in supporting JCAP by working with some of the inmates on interviewing skills for when they are released and begin seeking employment.
The program, he said, is an attempt “to give these guys a chance to be a productive citizen at some point is important, I think. It’s something we need to rally behind because it’s so prevalent.”
But at the same time, Snow admitted, when it comes to the overall opioid problem, he doesn’t have an answer.
Last year, Snow was appointed as vice president of the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA), which has leveraged $42 million for the Regional Cities Initiative that has generated over $258 million in total public-private investment in the 11-county region.
In recent years, the RDA has provided funding for about two dozen projects, including the Buffalo Street redevelopment project in Warsaw.
The RDA is “all about trying to help communities create an environment that helps attract people to come here. I love that part of it because we have great resources between lakes and trails and good things for younger professionals.”
Snow said his faith is important to him and that it helps determine“my understanding of where the issues are.”
A lot of that, he said. “really starts with family.”
“I think that even kids in schools that don’t have a lot of male influence, if you will, there’s a lot of systemic issues that stem from that.”
Other candidates who have filed include Russ Reahard, a Republican from Wabash, and Chad Harris, the Democratic Party Chairman from Wabash County.
The candidate filing period ends on Feb. 7.