By Dan Spalding
This photo says a lot.
In all the years I’ve taken campaign photos at campaign events I have never had a group shot like the one from Thursday’s candidate forum involving the race for three at-large seats on Kosciusko County Council.
And no, it wasn’t just about the masks.
I took four versions of this photo but the first three all had random people with their eyes closed so I was pleased that everyone had a pleasant look in the final frame.
But there was more about that photo than having their eyes open and wearing masks – it is a reflection of local modern politics.
I was struck by the fact that the six candidates running for three seats on Kosciusko County Council are all women and are part of a more diverse ballot than we’ve probably ever seen in Kosciusko County.
These people – Lori Roe, Noemi Ponce, Kathy Groninger, Joni Truex and Sue Ann Mitchell (along with Itanya Coon-Kauffman who could not attend due to illness), are part of a growing number of women across the country that are getting more involved.
During the forum Thursday, I heard two incumbents details the intricacies of county government with precision and three more eager to get involved. I enjoyed watching Lori Roe’s confident approach as she paused before offering well-organized thoughts.
And when Ponce repeated her answer in Spanish midway through the forum, it certainly felt unique in Kosciusko County politics.
But this picture is just a snapshot of what women are doing in this county.
There’s always been a strong role of women in politics locally. For goodness sake, there’s a reason Jean Northenor is known as Jean the Queen. And to be sure, many of the top county offices – and political parties – include women in key roles.
But there does seem to be an influx.
Newcomers Roe, Ponce, Groninger and Coon-Kauffman joined a growing list of women offering their voices to the public discussion. People like Shari Benyousky, who ran a solid campaign two years ago for Wayne Township, and Kelly Thompson, a current candidate for House District 22. On top of that, Pat Hackett and incumbent Jackie Walorski are competing for the Second District congressional seat.
The group of at-large candidates includes four with backgrounds in education and two with business experience. Three of them are running for the first time. One has been involved in local government for decades. And more than one is a grandmother. There is a clear desire to serve the public among them and I believe a few might have even been motivated by Donald Trump. But that’s beside the point.
In a community that faces challenges concerning diversity, it’s good to see women are finding a more dominant groove in local politics and government.
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CAMPAIGN NOTES – A few things to consider:
- Candidate Noemi Ponce has released a campaign video you can see here.
- Kudos to Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce and local attorneys for organizing the recent forums. Wouldn’t it be great if that became a tradition?
- A fundraiser for two Democrat candidates will be at Man Cave Brewing Co., on Tuesday night.
- GOP Hall of Fame Dinner is Oct. 29.
- There have been more accusations of yard sign thefts (what’s new?). Maybe that’s why I’m seeing more signs for Trump and Biden being placed much closer to front doors.
- Election Day is now 17 days away.
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PRESIDENTIAL FORUM THOUGHTS – Random thoughts about the dueling forums held Thursday by presidential candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden:
- After watching two local forums at city hall Thursday night, I went home and watched parts of two more involving Donald Trump and Joe Biden. As much as I was annoyed that NBC gave Donald Trump a free hour of TV after he snubbed the Presidential debate commission, the dueling TV events turned out to be a unique spectacle that wasn’t so awful. Both candidates could not be more different. That was made clear.
- No way those average Americans came up with all those picture-perfect questions.
- Given his energy, I was left wondering: That guy, Trump, had coronavirus two weeks ago?
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Dan Spalding is the editor at InkFreeNews.com.
He covers city government and politics and always welcomes your input.
He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.