ELKHART — After a mostly quiet summer on the local election scene, candidates for municipal office are getting ready for a busy fall.
Most watched will be the duel for Elkhart mayor, in which voters will have to choose between former Mayor Dave Miller, a Republican, and former City Councilman, Rod Roberson, a Democrat, as incumbent Mayor Tim Neese, R, is not seeking re-election.
Miller became the Republican nominee after running unopposed in the May primary, while Roberson defeated Elkhart Education Foundation executive director Ashley Boling Molyneaux by 14 percent of the votes.
Both mayoral candidates have extensive experience in local politics, and both claim to be more experienced than the other.
Roberson sat on the City Council for 16 years, serving as president and Finance Committee chairman. In 2015, he decided not to run for re-election for his at-large seat.
Miller sat on the City Council as an at-large member from 1996 until he became mayor in 2000. After two terms, he decided not to run for re-election in 2007.
Both have worked in the business world, Miller as vice president of sales at Horizon Transport and was among the founders of CWRV Transport. He is currently a school bus driver for Concord Community Schools.
Roberson’s career has taken him to The Coca Cola-Co. and Miller Brewing Co. He was executive director of Church Community Services and director of co-curricular activities at Elkhart Community Schools until that position was eliminated in June.
He is now the energy/risk management specialist for the school corporation.
The mayoral candidates are almost exactly the same age, Miller being Roberson’s senior by 100 days. They are currently 61 and 60 years old.
They will meet for their first debate on Sept. 10. The debate is hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Elkhart at The Matterhorn Conference Center, 2041 Cassopolis St. Doors open at 11:30 a.m.
The public is invited to the Kiwanis Club debate, but due to limited space, people anticipating to attend should email firstname.lastname@example.org by Sept. 6. Walk-ins are welcome if there is space. Lunch is available for $11, cash only.
“One of the ways that we can improve our community is to be involved with local government,” says Chris Pottratz, club vice president. “We are excited that this debate will give voters the opportunity to hear the mayoral candidates explain their plans to make Elkhart a better place to live, work, and raise families.”
Local journalist Marshall V. King will moderate the debate.
On Sept. 26, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Greater Elkhart Young Professionals will host a candidate forum at the Elkhart Health & Aquatics Center. Tickets can be purchased at www.elkhart.org.
The next scheduled debate will be on Oct. 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lerner Theatre’s Crystal Ballroom. This debate will be hosted by the American Democracy Project of IU South Bend and the League of Women Voters of Elkhart County.
The municipal election is Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus