La PORTE — With the Nov. 5 election quickly approaching, the League of Women Voters La Porte County invited candidates for the La Porte City Council to share their plans for the city with the public.
The La Porte Candidate Forum was held at the La Porte County Complex Annex on Thursday night. Everyone on the ballot was invited to speak during the forum.
The four At-Large candidates were able to introduce themselves and share what their top three priorities as a council member would be if elected.
Republican Tim Franke talked about his focuses for the community.
“Bringing business in is definitely [a priority]. I think that the city is moving in the right direction in terms of walkability, but I think we have a long way to go," Franke said. "I would like to put more of an effort into that and try and find some funding to make it a more walking and biking friendly place, that will, in turn, make for a healthier and happier community.”
Franke also talked about cleaning up the city by addressing La Porte’s many blighted properties.
“I think code enforcement isn’t where it should be. I think that the more that people start taking care of their properties the more contagious that will [become],” he said.
Democrat Joe Mrozinske told the audience that he has made his priorities reflect the feedback that he has received from the community as a City Councilman.
“I would say my top priorities would be roads, water and sewer — including trash, and lastly, public safety," Mrozinske said. "During the first two terms we’ve established a line item in the budget to address the roads. We established a funding source and prioritized certain projects. I would like to see that continue.”
Mrozinske went on to talk about the stormwater situation in the city.
“Midway through the year, we passed a stormwater ordinance [containing] mistakes," he said. "In this next year, I’m hoping that we’ve gathered the data [necessary] to do a comprehensive look at it, meaning we go property by property and iron out those details.”
He continued, “we have to do something so that we can maintain our police and fire support. We need to give that some attention, not only in salaries, but in retirements.”
Democrat Robert O’Donnell started by saying, “My main concern is going to be the road system and infrastructure because it has been neglected.”
O’Donnell is planning to use his position, if elected, to give everyone a voice on the council.
“I want to give a voice to the people and take their concerns into account, whether or not they are able to attend council meetings [to express them]," O'Donnell said. "I want to be very open and easily contacted. I want to make sure that everyone’s opinions are heard and given a space in the council.”
He added, “public safety is another concern of mine, especially when it comes to school buses. I regularly see buses getting sped past while children are [boarding], so I would make [addressing] that a priority.”
Republican Paul Vincent noted the city’s need for more law enforcement.
“I have talked to people and seen troubles with drugs and [lack of] enforcement in our community," Vincent said. "I feel like we need to provide more resources, tools and options for the police department to better be able to address those issues.”
If elected, Vincent plans to use his expertise with grants to the city’s benefit. He said, “we’re not taking advantage of all of the grant programs that are out there today. I’d like to see us leverage some of our monies and take advantage of these grants taking the cost down."
He went on, “I’d like to see economic development be spurred by creating the right environment. Some of that is [reducing] truck traffic, but it’s also getting good standards that provide for sustainable and innovative solutions that will help attract businesses by lowering our cost of entry.”
The four candidates are campaigning for one of two spots on the council. All four candidates will be on the ballot in the coming election on Nov. 5.