WARSAW — With Republican incumbents Mayor Joe Thallemer and Clerk-Treasurer Lynne Christiansen heading to election day unopposed, all of the contested races in the city involve City Council.
Three Republican City Council incumbents, Cindy Dobbins, Jack Wilhite (both at-large) and Jerry Frush (District 4), are unopposed in their bids for re-election.
Below are summaries of candidates in contested races.
Incumbent Councilman Jeff Grose is being challenged by Sara McNeal Strahan-Lenfestey.
Work history: Warsaw Community Schools, Social Studies Department Chair at WCHS; Grace College & Seminary, Part-time Political Science Instructor Memberships/Public Committees: Serves on the Warsaw Plan Commission, Chairman of the Warsaw Deer Task Force, member of the Warsaw Board of Works, member of the Warsaw Wage & Benefits Committee, member of the Warsaw Non-Profits Committee, and member of the Warsaw Redevelopment Commission.
Why am I running? Serving as a District 1 Warsaw City Councilman has been a great privilege and a very rewarding experience. Over the past two decades, I have learned so much about the local policymaking process and I firmly believe this vast amount of experience will continue to help me represent my constituents in the near future. During my years of public service, I have learned to appreciate and understand the important role local government plays in protecting and promoting our quality of life. I want to thank the citizens and voters of District One for trusting me to be their representative in previous elections. If re-elected in November, I look forward to serving for another term.
Top issue & Closing Thoughts: Over the past two decades, our city has experienced an overwhelming amount of growth and change. An experienced and proactive residential-friendly view on the city council will be critical as we continue to face the issues of growth and development in our city. I hope my years of servant-leadership on the redevelopment commission, plan commission and the board of works will help me provide this type of perspective and voice on the city council.
Sara McNeal Strahan-Lenfestey
Work history: I am a residential counselor at North Eastern Center. I work with those suffering with mental health issues like bipolar, depression and other types.
Top concern: First, overall community safety, which includes quality affordable health care, affordable housing and working with developers to negotiate with them to be willing to help in areas of affordable housing projects to ensure that all of our residents have access to these housing units for all people in our areas.
To create job growth from new and current employers that will pay employees a liveable wage and provide safe working conditions. By providing incentives to all of these employers that are willing to hire our residents and help them find a pathway to quality employment, by offering our residents who are suffering from addictions ways to help them, by having detox centers that offer medication assistance and to help with symptoms of detox, counseling and other options. Another need is a type of transitional housing for both adults and minors struggling with hardships.
To change the perception of the city of Warsaw by encouraging more of a community of welcomeness, diversity and a quality living environment for all people. Community safety is not only about reducing crime. It is about building a strong, cohesive, vibrant community — a leader of the 21st Century.
Why are you running? To make a difference in my community, to be the change. I am a lifelong resident of the city of Warsaw and I am proud and honored to be the first African American female candidate to be nominated for District 1. I have deep compassion for all members of my community regardless of any differences of opinions.
Closing thoughts: I have a great amount of passion for assisting people who are elderly, disabled or disadvantaged. I am committed to being an advocate for everyone in my community. My political promise is to be a fierce advocate for any person in need. I will find solutions to any problem in my community and my door will always be open to any fellow community member to voice any concerns. Together we can make a difference
Josh Finch (R) and Chris Plack (Independent) are seeking a seat represented by outgoing councilman Ron Shoemaker.
Work history: Director of Business Development for Peakey Enterprise in downtown Warsaw. Peakey offers custom software solutions to automate business workflows.
Why are you running? I have a deep-rooted passion to serve others. Throughout life, personally and professionally, I have always led by example. If I want to see this city continue to grow and thrive, what better way to lead by example than to represent District 2? This is also the place I hope many generations of my family will live and I want to do my part to make this a great place for them, for everyone.
Top concern: Housing is a big concern, but what isn’t talked about is that with additional housing (and people) comes a need for more or improved infrastructure. We need to develop a strategic plan to accommodate this growth and be sure to see it through.
Closing thoughts: Please just remember to vote. It is an important privilege we all get. The three foundations of my campaign are faith, family and integrity. I truly appreciate your consideration.
Work history: Operator of 24/7 Cars.
Why are you running? I’m running to serve the people of District 2 and the people of Warsaw as a whole. It’s my goal to bring a fresh passion and vision to the council and new energy to our local government.
Top concern? The growing burden placed on the working families of our city. I will work to lower the cost of living and ease the tax burden of our citizens.
Closing thought: I’m running as an Independent because it’s important that the concerns of all our citizens be addressed. Although I am conservative, I believe there’s nothing partisan about fixing potholes.
Incumbent Michael Klondaris (R) is being challenged by Roxeanne Coffelt (D).
Work history: Co-Owner Cox Studio (family-owned since 1944) located in Warsaw
Why are you running? I’m running for City Council District 3 in the belief that I can make a positive and meaningful contribution to the betterment of our city for the people living here.
Top concern: As the city continues to grow, there are several concerns pertaining to controlled and sustainable growth. They are interconnected and part of a sustainable growth puzzle:
- Traffic congestion is becoming a real problem.
- Affordable housing is at the top of everyone’s list.
- Southside shopping is minimal. We need a grocery store.
I appreciate the people of District 3’s past support and I look forward to representing their best interests going forward.
Work history: Certified Public Accountant, Certified Valuation Analyst. I had 10 years in various manufacturing accounting roles while I put myself through college (Drake University). Worked at three accounting firms, including Ernst & Young, until I started my own firm in Des Moines. I sold it to move to China for two years and then moved to Warsaw for my husband’s job. I worked for another CPA firm for about 10 years and started my current practice on Aug. 29, 2017. I specialize in business valuations, profit and growth consulting and litigation support.
Why are you running? Upon moving here, I was shocked that for most races, we didn’t have a choice of candidates. After complaining about that for 15 years, I was asked to run. I felt I had to “put my money where my mouth is” so to speak. So, I am giving voters a choice.
Top concern: Transparency. There’s a lack of trust in the community. I want citizens involved in the process. For decisions, including the awarding of contracts, to be upfront and ethical. CPAs are taught to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. I think that should apply to elected officials as well.
Closing thoughts: I’m for economic development, but not taking public money for private use. I believe diversity makes us stronger. I want citizens to feel they are part of the process.
Incumbent Council President Diane Quance (R) is facing a challenge from Jack Brunetto (D).
Work history: I have worked in the Warsaw community my entire career. I am a licensed clinical social worker, licensed marriage and family therapist and licensed school counselor and worked at the Bowen Center as a clinician and administrator moving on in 1994 to work for Warsaw Community Schools as a school counselor retiring as Director of Guidance in 2017. I have been a city council member for nine years.
I have been an active member of this community since graduating from Manchester College (University). Warsaw has moved from a small town to a vibrant city during that time. I want to see planned growth that preserves our neighborhoods, allows local businesses to thrive and attracts international business ventures. I believe I have a unique skill set of education, a long history of community involvement, experience working with local organizations and compassionate care for the people I serve that make me the clear choice.
Top issue: A very important issue is managing our growth while retaining our community identity. Increased traffic- air, vehicular and people- is an issue city council can directly impact by aggressively working to improve our airport, adding patrol officers to enforce our traffic laws and adding and maintaining sidewalks in our neighborhoods.
Closing thought: I didn’t just appear to run for office. You’ve seen me in the schools, at community events or volunteering my time. I care about where and how we live.
Work history: I have a well-rounded knowledge of business and the financial needs of the city. I was an accountant for over 40 years. Most recently, I was the controller for a small company for over 22 years. Due to the size of the company, I dealt with a broad range of duties beyond accounting. Among these duties were personnel, human resources, disability and unemployment. I worked with pension and 401K plans as well as health, property and casualty insurance. I have maintained vehicle maintenance records and obtained permits as needed. As an accountant, I have maintained financial records and budgets, produced statements and paid taxes.
I have attended city council, board of works and other city meetings for over two years to learn how the city functions. I am a member of the City Planning Commission. I have seen the similarities and differences between the departments. I have observed how the boards work with employees and citizens to determine the best path forward for Warsaw.
I believe my varied experience would qualify me to be the best candidate for the fifth district. I am aware of the issues and have a wide variety of experience to keep our city moving forward.
Why are you running: I have lived in Warsaw for almost 50 years, it is my adopted home city and I would appreciate the opportunity to serve the city, It’s a great place to live and work and I would like to be able to contribute to it.
Top Concerns: Maintaining the infrastructure without increasing taxes. A strong Infrastructure will help keep the city growing. Adequate housing availability. Not just starter homes but safe, clean neighborhoods for everyone. Student security. Safety in the schools as well as traveling to and from home. Kids should feel safe at home and at school.
Closing Thoughts: Warsaw city works hard to maintain its roads, parks and downtown. I believe I can use my experience to work with the administration to keep going forward.