ELKHART — City Councilwoman Pam Kurpgeweit, who won the 6th District seat by six votes in 2015, is seeking the Republican nomination again this year, but she’s facing a challenge from Rick Stauffer.

“I’ve been a resident of Elkhart my whole life, and I think it needs some improvement,” Stauffer, 64, said.

He wants to increase bipartisanship on the City Council.

“There’s a lot of contentiousness there. There has been for a long time,” he said.

Kurpgeweit said she is seeking re-election so she can continue to help improve Elkhart and the lives of those who live here.

“I believe you serve your community, no matter where you live,” Kurpgeweit said. “I consider the honor and privilege of being voted in to serve the community my responsibility as a citizen of America, a citizen of this community, and I believe I have the skills and qualifications required to serve.”

She said being on the council is like working on a puzzle, because she wants to make pieces such as low taxes, affordable housing and medical care fit together.

“We are trying to take care of not only today’s generation but our future generations, our kids and our grandkids. We want them to either remain here or relocate back here so our city continues to grow and expand and get bigger and better,” she said.

For Stauffer, one of the top priorities of the City Council should be improving Elkhart’s neighborhoods.

“The city seems to be OK, but seems like we kind of excluded some of our neighborhoods,” he said. “I think there’s a real problem as far as code enforcement. A lot of the neighborhoods are just completely run down.”

He also said programming at the Tolson Center should target the whole city rather than specific neighborhoods, if the center is reopened.

If elected, Stauffer said he would be accessible. He is a relative newcomer to politics but said he led a group that fought against a large car shredder that opened in 2006. He said he has also been involved in different initiatives to help the homeless population.

Kurpgeweit pointed to her engineering background and leadership, and budgeting experience as reason why she sees herself as the best equipped to represent the district.

“Then of course I have the skills in the background of having the four years on the City Council, which has given me more insight into how a city actually functions and works,” she said.

The 6th District covers southwestern Elkhart, almost entirely south of the St. Joseph river except for an enclave by Elkhart General Hospital and Mary Daly Elementary School.

The primary election is May 7.

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter @ReadRasmus

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