ELKHART — Amid the voter registration deadline, Citizens for a Better Elkhart held a Unity Festival to encourage residents of Elkhart’s 11th district to vote in the fall.

“It’s crazy the number of people that are registered here that don’t vote,” Jay Little, 11th precinct committeeman said. “This precinct and the 12th precinct have been historically nonvoting.”

Lack of involvement in city politics was spoken of by Citizens for Better Elkhart chairman Gary Johnson.

He cited recent events with the Tolson Center as evidence.

“They didn’t disseminate information to the people that were going to be most affected by Tolson,” Johnson said. “The way the council and those elected officials did the citizens of Elkhart, there was a lack of community input and we feel that if the voters have knowledge of the candidates then they can hold them accountable.”

Elkhart resident Frank Nelson claimed it’s not just about a lack of information, though. For low income and minority populations of the 11th and 12th precinct, the areas encompassing the Roosevelt Center and Watertower Place, time is just as much of a concern.

“I didn’t know a whole lot about the candidates,” Nelson said. “When my kids were growing up I worked so hard that I didn’t have time to watch the news or read a newspaper to stay informed. The problem is finding the time to vote and finding the time to find out who you are voting for.”

A resident of Elkhart since 2005, Nelson said he’s only voted once or twice.

Citizens for Better Elkhart hopes to continue its efforts to raise awareness to the area about political issues affecting the residents.

“There’s not the reachout that there needs to be and that bothers me,” Little said.

The Unity Festival at the Roosevelt Center boasted an afternoon entertainment for all ages. There was free food, a fashion show, a hair showcase, raffle, door prizes, open mic and of course voter registration opportunities and candidate information, with several candidates on site to talk to residents about their platforms and citizens concerns.

“We want to be a voice for our community and the underrepresented neighborhoods throughout the city,” Johnson said.

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