Even at age 79, Dick Moore has the gusto to run the city.
Saying he still wakes up invigorated and ready to serve the city, Moore announced Saturday that he will seek a third term as mayor of Elkhart.
Moore announced Saturday afternoon, Sept. 14, 2013, at the home of Arthur Decio, a longtime friend and supporter, that he will seek the Democrat Party’s nomination for mayor in 2015.
The announcement comes amid a rough-and-tumble political atmosphere, decreasing tax revenues from the state and ongoing efforts to see the city climb out of an economic recession that began shortly after he was elected as mayor.
In his speech Saturday, Moore said he’s been asked whether he would have run for mayor if he had known how challenging it would be.
“If I could somehow go back and magically change the course of my career, I would not change a single thing,” Moore told a large crowed of friends and supporters at the Decio residence on Greenleaf Boulevard.
“In fact, I feel better and more confident now than I did when I first ran for the office back in 2007,” Moore said.
The political atmosphere and differences with some members of city council, Moore said, have “strengthened my resolve.”
In the past year, Moore has issued vetoes to a Republican-led budget plan and sewer proposal and remains locked in a battle over how to solve the commercial compact sewer policy. Next week, he’s expected to unveil his fourth compromise on the sewer dispute.
He said he feels encouraged by the idea of representing the people of Elkhart and their interests.
“I could have walked away. No doubt about it,” Moore said. “But I have enjoyed very much serving the people of Elkhart.”
Moore first began working for the city in 1960 and eventually served as street commissioner and fire chief.
He recounted the struggles the city faced with the worst jobless rate in the nation five years ago.
At the same time, much of his tenure has involved crafting annual budgets with fewer tax revenues flowing in from the state.
Moore said he is proud that his administration has been able to preserve all public services even though the city has seen revenues fall $13 million since 2008.
The ability to work with smaller budgets while retaining city services has been his greatest achievement, he said.
“Together we have cut $5 million from our annual operating budget and yet we continue to not just provide basic city services, but we have improved them,” Moore said.
Moore also noted that his efforts to work with President Barack Obama helped secure an estimated $40 million in stimulus funds for Elkhart that “helped us to move more quickly out of the economic fog that enveloped us.”
Among his achievements during five-plus years in office, Moore noted that the city has removed large industrial eyesores such as Elkhart Foundry and Labour Pump and the former Walter Piano building on Beardsley Avenue.
He also touted the renovations of Lerner Theatre, completion of the streetscape project, and the emergence of an arts and entertainment district downtown.
His creation of the SoMa revitalization plan, initially named after South Main Street, continues to make progress in establishing a long-term plan for downtown Elkhart, he said.
When fully implemented, SoMa’s vision will result in a focused development plan that will help guide real estate management, marketing and other initiatives that will “build on the progress we have already made toward the downtown Elkhart residents deserve.”
Decio also spoke on the Moore’s behalf, and marveled how the Moore administration has worked to recover from the recession and transform the city.
“This whole thing could have gone south,” Decio said.
“We’re very, very fortunate, for this man is the man who has made a difference,” Decio said while standing next to Moore.
“He sees things as they are and wants to make them better,” Decio said.
Two other candidates have announced their plans to run for mayor. State Rep. Tim Neese will seek the Republican nomination and Dale Ray Duncan is identifying his campaign with the National Socialist Party.