NAPPANEE — The diversification of businesses, growth of downtown and city code enforcement were some of the most talked-about issues during a Nappanee mayoral and city council candidate forum. 

Nappanee residents had a chance to meet the candidates and ask questions during the forum Thursday night, April 16, at the Dal-Mar Catering Banquet Hall. About 100 people attended the forum. 

Residents wanted to know what candidates would do to promote the growth of businesses and downtown. 

Mayoral candidate Phil Jenkins, a Republican, said he would work with small business owners to get ideas on how they became successful. He said he would also make an inventory of vacant buildings in town in order to point entrepreneurs looking for space in the right direction.

“We have a history of entrepreneurs; I believe there are good ideas out there,” he said. “But unfortunately it takes a while for businesses to get started. The government can also provide the policies and procedures to promote growth. Goshen has their launchpad for entrepreneurs. I think we need to go to other communities and see what they are doing.”

Republican mayoral candidate Patricia Wyant said the city needs to work on growing its population and working to bring a diverse industries, ones focused on technology, to bring more people to live in Nappanee. 

“We need someone who knows the downtown and has a success rate to help us bring businesses that will complement our already successful businesses,” she said.

Another resident asked about how the city can improve code enforcement. 

Wyant said she wants to facilitate and bridge the gap between the city and residents for community efforts. 

“There are procedures you have to go through and I would definitely encourage everyone, especially the council to be available to the community and let them know who to contact,” she said.

Jenkins said that although the current zoning ordinances are fair, he thinks neighborhoods getting together to talk with city officials is important. 

“If you can get a group of neighbors on a particular issue you come to the city as a group, it will have more weight,” he said.

The primary elections in Elkhart County will be May 5.

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