Eight seek city council seat; deadline Monday

Eight people have filed paperwork and seeking to be named the next Elkhart City Counci lmember. Deadline to file is Monday.
Posted on Dec. 30, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Dec. 31, 2012 at 2:46 p.m.

ELKHART — Eight people are seeking the open seat on Elkhart’s City Council and the number could still increase.

The deadline to apply with the Elkhart County Republican party for the at-large seat is 7 p.m. Monday. Precinct committee members will make a selection Thursday night.

In addition to David Miller and David Pixey, who made formal announcements last week, the following people have also filed paperwork with county GOP chairman Dale Stickel: Pam Kurpgeweit, Adam Bujalski, Brian Dickerson, David Bontrager, Steve Gruber and Bill Schweinzger.

Kurpgeweit announced her intentions Friday in a press release. She moved to Elkhart seven years ago from Florida and works in quality assurance for Conn-Selmer.

Kurpgeweit attends council meetings regularly and said she believes Mayor Dick Moore’s administration “is not being fiscally responsible on a lot of issues.”

She urged anyone who supports her candidacy to contact precinct committee members who will be voting in Thursday’s caucus.

“I’m not in it for the name or the position. I’m in it for the concerned taxpayers,” she said.

Bontrager, 73, is a former city council member and Elkhart County Commissioner and said he believes his interest and experience in budgets could benefit the council. He is retired from Elkhart Brass and spent much of his time in human relations field. He served a four-year term in the 1970s before running unsuccessfully for mayor.

He said he’s concerned about water utility rates and said city officials waited too long to deal with the Clean Water Act that has forced the city to undergo a huge $130 million wastewater project.

Bujalski, 30, is a branch manager for Key Bank and has been a resident of Elkhart for about seven years. He ran for council in 2011 and lost in the general election to council president Tonda Hines. He said he’d like to see Republicans and Democrats work more cooperatively on issues and thinks the council would be served well by somebody with a business background.

Bujalski currently serves as co-chair with the Young Republicans organization of Elkhart County.

Dickerson, 23, is an electrician with Final Phase Electric Company in Elkhart. He ran for council in 2011 and lost in the general election against Dave Osborne. He said he believes that experience has made him well prepared for the current opening.

Dickerson often attends council meetings and said he thinks he has a good grasp of some of the top issues facing the city. He said he believes the city will face more tough economic decisions “that will be necessary to hold the mayor accountable for choices that were made in this administration and in the past,” Dickerson said. “That’s what we need to see on the council.”

Gruber, 49, is employed with McDowell Enterprises of Elkhart and served as president of Downtown Elkhart Inc. for two years. He describes himself as a fourth-generation Elkhartan and feels a sense of commitment to the city.

Gruber said he believes council needs to further scrutinize spending practices and is concerned with how funds from Tax Increment Financing are used for the city.

“Council has done a fine job (but) I think there needs to be more oversight on the budget,” Gruber said.

Schweinzger, 41, is a real estate investor who owns numerous properties in the downtown area, said he’s concerned about spending issues and the condition of neighborhoods. He said he realizes the economy has left city officials with tough choices.

“Being a small business owner, I understand that as the economy takes a dip, often times we have to take a look and take a dip also,” Schweinzger said.

The council vacancy was created by the resignation of Kyle Hannon, who was recently named president of the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce.

This story was amended on Dec. 31, 2012, to clarify a double negative used to explain one of Pam Kurpgeweit's statements.

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