ELKHART — Three men are running for the Democratic nomination for the 4th District seat on the Elkhart City Council on Tuesday.
Incumbent Dwight Fish faces three-term City Council veteran Ron Troyer and James “Jay” H. Little.
After 12 years on the city council, Troyer was defeated by Fish in the 2015 primary by 93 to 64 votes. But now, 72-year-old Troyer wants to get back to the table.
“I’m finding out every day that I have a far better rapport with the people and their situations,” said Troyer.
He said he believes the 2015 defeat was a good thing, because it gave him a chance to learn more about the people in the 4th District.
Fish, 64, said he is looking for a second term in part to keep the council fiscally responsible.
“I’d like to continue the good work I’ve been getting accomplished throughout the district, and supporting the taxpayers with good financial management,” he said.
Little, 53, is hoping to do things differently.
“I want to see some changes in the mentality of our city government,” he said. “Primarily zoning and dealing with that. Also the way that people on the north side of Elkhart view the people on the south side of Elkhart.”
All three candidates mentioned improving public safety as a top issue, but Little claims to be more affected by violence than his opponents.
“They don’t get woken up by gunshots at night. I do, because I have a small dog,” he said.
Little has seen police discrimination based on race, he said, and suggested that the Elkhart Police Department should be more diverse.
“When we have all white officers that don’t come from the immediate community and don’t know how to relate to people that don’t look like them, that creates problems,” he said.
Fish said that one way to improve public safety is getting the district back on its feet after last year’s flood, by repaving streets and making sure that the city accommodates rebuilding.
“We’ve got to continue supporting them and helping them with good sewer and water and garbage pick-up and leaf pick-up to keep those neighborhoods that they’re rebuilding even prettier, even nicer,” Fish said.
According to Troyer, improving public safety is particularly important in the 4th District, because many children walk to school there. He also said handling crime is mainly a concern for the city administration.
In the legislative branch, Troyer would like to clean out bad or redundant ordinances.
“We need to update and quantify and qualify them. There’s just a lot that we don’t address, that’s on the books, that some people get penalized for and others don’t,” he said.
According to Troyer, voters know what they will get if he is elected. He said his 26 years as an usher at Notre Dame means he knows how to speak with people and address their issues.
“So I deal with a lot of people, I like to listen to their questions and then give them helpful directions of how to enjoy the day. And that’s what a city councilman is all about,” he said.
Fish argued that people should vote for him because he is the most involved in the district.
“I’ve actually been working in the district, unlike other people who had the office before. When I ran the first time, I beat the standing – or I should say the sitting – council president in the election. And that proves to me that he wasn’t very effective,” Fish said.
Little said that he is younger, more progressive and more bipartisan than his opponents.
He also said that he has better relationships with people in the 4th District, which “I feel will make all the difference on being on City Council, and I think that the other two candidates don’t have that.”
The 4th District covers a large part of southeastern Elkhart, largely following Main Street south of the train tracks.
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