Former councilwoman challenges Elkhart'sDistrict 6 incumbent

Democrat and former Elkhart city councilwoman Tonda Hines, left, is challenging Republican incumbent Pam Kurpgeweit for the District 6 seat on the Elkhart City Council.

ELKHART — Both candidates for the District 6 seat on the Elkhart City Council know what it’s like to represent the residents on the southwest side of town.

Incumbent Pam Kurpgeweit, a Republican, beat Democrat Tonda Hines by six votes out of 608 in 2015, unseating the two-term councilwoman.

Kurpgeweit said the issues she will work on if re-elected include growing the number and diversity of jobs that pay a good wage, opposing wasteful spending and maintaining city services and programming for residents.

“I like to look at the city as an entire whole,” she said. “You have your 6th District, but what impacts our neighborhood also impacts other neighborhoods, and a perfect example is the ADA playground that I was able to help get over at McNaughton Park.”

The Republican would also like to see an improvement to the city’s roads. She and the council are trying to get the Street Department on a proactive schedule rather than a reactive one for repairing crumbling roads, she said.

Hines said the City Council should incentivize development in more neighborhoods, including District 6.

“I would like to see our neighborhoods revitalized. There’s a lot of older homes that are just run down now,” she said. “If we can strengthen those neighborhoods that don’t have as much homeownership, if we can provide programs and even possibly – I’d like to see us work with our Housing Authority more.”

Another “hot topic,” according to Hines is ensuring that there are enough crossing guards at schools throughout the city. Hines said the current council has not been supportive enough on that issue, which was most recently addressed at the 2020 budget hearings this fall, when David Henke, R-3, suggested crossing guards should be managed by the school corporations.

Hines criticized the current City Council, including Kurpgeweit, for defunding the Tolson Center in 2018.

“That being voted down really impacted the community in its entirety and certain parts of the 6th,” she said. “Having a voice, a representation that looks at those things in a more equitable way is what is definitely needed.”

Kurpgeweit said she is excited for the $4 million plans to expand the Tolson Center and said that even now, as the center was recently reopened, it is doing better than it was before the City Council defunded it due to financial mismanagement.

“If we had not gone through the really tough times and the tough decisions to do what happened with the Tolson CommunityCenter, we would not be where we are today,” she said. “I think much bigger and better days are ahead.”

Kurpgeweit, 68, said she is the right candidate for the job because she has the experience of being on the council and from working with engineering for the U.S. military and the private sector, which she said had given her an eye for community development.

Hines, 51, is a program manager for Elkhart Community Schools’ 21st Century before- and after-school programming, which she said has helped her be in touch with the community. She also pointed to her work on the council, which included fighting a megashredder and beginning the revitalization of downtown, as evidence that she is the right candidate. 

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus

(7) comments


crossi at 14 corners of the city's 430 corners, none on cassopolis where people are hit yet 3 on jeanwood. No history of benefit over signal device but continue to throw good money over bad. This is a school budget issue not a city budget issue. The answer is not more tax cost without a benefit to the taxpayer. Using this example demonstrates the conflict of interest to any of the candidates working for the school but wanting city budget money..


DHenke, you can argue crossing guards are a school problem and I agree. What you can't argue is that the guards are paid through the Elkhart City Police Dept budget! lists the guards as paid from EPD budget. (employee compensation report)


Wasn’t she involved with the incompetent management of Tolson and resigned when it became apparent funds were “ mismanaged” Lol! What a joke Elkhart let her on the ballots.


Tonda was about spending the money for social woes when the City budget is specifically for clean water, sewer, streets, emergency services and parks as a quality of life. Tipping her hat with more crossing guards is the perfect indication of using ity budget for school purposes where she works. Two different systems, two different taxes. Can't serve both masters. The Tolson had financial mismanagement and some would have turned their eyes away. This councl with Pam stood up and said it could and should be better. It is now on the better path.

Joe King

More crossing guards for children to cross busy roads is about public safety.... or don’t you and Pam care about kids making it to school safe and back home? Which council member oversaw the Tolson Center? Is this the same one being run by someone under investigation currently from previous employment? Tell me Henke, when you voted down rental registration to help renters and keep landlords on file and in many rentals did you own? Why didn’t you resign when you were pulled over for dui or owi...whichever? Bad example you are setting .


Joe, the crossing guards are a school budget issue. You trying to demonize Mr Henke and Pam by saying they don’t want crossing guards is a old liberal trick. Since you want to attack Mr Henke’s past do you care to comment on Avis Dawsons or even Ms Hines discressions? You are such a dependable party hack.


I think many years ago Ms Hines causes were tagged "good and plenty"

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