Kokomo Perspective 02 13 2019 E Edition Page A2

Filing ended Friday for this years city election, and nearly every position on the Kokomo Common Council will be contested this year, with some going into early challenges during the primaries. Most notably, a total of nine candidates have iled to run for the three available at-large seats on the council, with two long-time Democratic incumbents facing primaries and, should they proceed, General Election contests. On the Republican side, five political newcomers have also made bids for the at-large seats, and only three will move onto the General Election. Incumbent At-Large Councilman Mike Kennedy, a Democrat, iled to run for reelection already, but another incumbent at-large councilman, Democrat Bob Hayes, also has filed to run for reelection. Bob Hayes (D) Hayes has been on the council since 1997, with a few years offafter an unsuccessful bid for mayor, and is also the current president of the council. The incumbent said he was seeking another term because theres more work to do in the City of Firsts. I dont think were done yet, said Hayes. When I say done yet, the strides we made in the past, Im going to say eight years with the city council and working with the administration, weve done some things. Some things people disagree with, but thats true in any governmental process. In particular, Hayes led the council through two highly-contentious measures in recent years, one of which entailed expanding local civil rights protections to LGBT residents. Another contentious issue was a resolution allowing for a county-led comprehensive smoking ban to take effect in Kokomo. Those two things, Im proud of them, said Hayes. Some of the naysayers on the LGBT, so far, have been proven wrong. They said, Restrooms werent going to be safe. Our women and little girls wont be safe, and to my knowledge there hasnt been one incident. Matthew Sedam (D) Another newcomer to the at-large race on the Democratic ticket is Matthew Sedam, who iled last week. Sedam presently serves as the director for the Howard County Board of Health and works as an adjunct faculty at Ivy Tech. In addition, he also works as a job coach for individuals with disabilities in the community. The Democrat highlighted the growth Kokomo has experienced since the recession and said he wants to continue to look forward in moving the city in the right direction. We need leaders who are focused on the betterment of the community and not of the decisions of the past, said Sedam. We need leaders that can work together in a bipartisan way to continue that growth. I also want to be someone who can represent my generation of voters that is looking towards the future. Chris Wendt (D) Rounding out the Democratic ticket for the at-large race is newcomer Chris Wendt. On the Republican side, five candidates are seeking at-large positions on the Kokomo Common Council. Kara Kitts-McKibben (R) Joining Jason Skaggs, the first Republican to ile in the race, was Kara Kitts-McKibben. A local businesswoman, Kitts- McKibben is a lifelong resident of Kokomo who owns and operates Revive Salon. Kitts-McKibben is the solefemaleseekingice as an at-large council member and said that the council is missing a younger womans perspective. Kokomo needs someone who has the common sense to understand both sides of an issue and not be afraid to stand for citizens when they voice their opinions, said Kitts- McKibben I believe in developing cornerstones of a community. A community will thrive when they have strong public safety, provide the opportunity for higher education, constantly work to create and retain employment, all the while giving the public ample cultural and entertainment opportunities. The wife of a Kokomo Fire Department irefighter, the Republican candidate said her decision to run came from a desire to expand local governments focus beyond downtown. My reason for running for council comes down to my husbands and I desire to make Kokomo a better place for generations to come, said Kitts-McKibben. Weve both been here for over 35 years and dont plan on leaving. I have seen a lot of focus in the past 12 years on the downtown area. I want to expand on that to reach our neighborhoods throughout the entire city. Matthew Grecu (R) Republican Matthew Grecu also has thrown his hat in the ring for the at-large race. Grecus campaign includes several well-known local political figures such as Jeff Stout, who he works with as part of Stout Funeral Homes and Crematory. Howard County Commissioner Paul Wyman also is a part of the candidates campaign committee. Grecu has served on local boards, including the Howard County Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, and his campaign is based on ensuring tax dollars are used to fund government services that are priorities to taxpayers, encouraging positive growth through private/public partnerships throughout the city, funding public safety at levels that are commensurate with a community our size, recognizing specific needs such as additional public funding to combat drug and continue to ight the opioid crisis, and working with other units of government to ensure maximum cooperation and planning for our community as a whole. I believe that my experience in our local business, serving on local boards, and volunteering for nonprofit organizations will allow me to well serve our city, said Grecu. I will bring a good work ethic and common sense decision making to our Kokomo Common Council. Antonio Stewart (R) A Republican businessman and pastor also joined the slate of candidates. Antonio Tony Stewart filed last week to run as an at- large candidate. Stewart has lived in Kokomo since 2005 with his family and pastors The Reformation Faith Ministries while owning and operating Stewarts Healthcare Consultants, which provides CNA training programs in Kokomo. Locally, Stewart has served on the boards of Indiana Department of Health, Kokomo Rescue Mission, Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and NAACP. Hes also a veteran of the U.S. Army and served as a medic and nurse for six years. There are many opportunities and issues facing our city presently, said Stewart. I have decided to run for a seat on our city council because I care deeply about our community and am willing to work hard to address Kokomos future. Safety, jobs, and the current drug problems in our city are my priorities. My background in business, management, healthcare, and local boards will help me to be a valuable council member. Alex Clark (R) Rounding out the Republican ticket for the at-large race is local business owner Alex Clark, who operates Maverick Security Solutions. Clark said his campaign was predicated on trying to help local businesses thrive and hoped to provide tools for small business owners as a member of the city council. In particular, he said he wanted to see the city partner with the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance in forming a business park. Weve got Inventrek, which is great for professional companies, people that just need ice space, said Clark. What Id like to see is an actual business park or technology park where a guy that is working out of his garage or home where he can rent and scale up production. The impetus for Clarks candidacy, he said, was Mayor Greg Goodnights speech where he called for new blood in local politics. I understand he said the city council has done a great job and everything and they should be reelected, but almost in the same breath he says Kokomo needs new leadership, said Clark. Its not one of those things where I hold ill will towards anybody on the council. Personally, I think what the city has done in regards to amenities, quality of life, making Kokomo nicer is great. I think its fantastic. I just think the administration and the city council has been too focused on it. Once again, its not necessarily a bad thing; there are just other things city government should be focusing on and kind of spread that out. Clark also said he wants to work with city public safety departments to evaluate their needs, should he be elected. District 1 Beyond the at-large race, both primary and General Election battles took shape in recent weeks as well. Jason Acord (R) In District 1, incumbent Democrat Mike Wyant already iled for reelection, and Republican Jason Acord will challenge him. Acord is a Kokomo native who has lived on the north side for about 22 years. He works for local company NuC02, which provides beverage carbonation materials to local businesses. The Republican candidate said he hasnt seen enough development in District 1 over the years, and hed like to see local efforts to push development in that direction. In particular, Acord bemoaned the state of infrastructure in his district, calling for a new method of repairing sidewalks that didnt require citizens to foot a portion of the bill for such work. The sidewalks over there are horrible ... Jay Street, Bell Street, Purdum Street. I dont understand, said Acord. I might get involved in this and find out a reason why, but Im wondering why our city workers don't fix these sidewalks. Acord said he felt as though roads in the area also had been neglected over the years and admitted he wasn't a fan of some of the local construction trends, such as bump outs, but said he couldnt advocate for tearing out preexisting structures. He also said, if elected, he would push for kokomoperspective.com A2 Kokomo Perspective February 13, 2019 by Devin Zimmerman News Reporter dzimmerman@kokomoperspective.com Sizable field emerges for city council races Contested primaries take shape in District 2, District 3, and at-large races Council A6 Perspective Photos / Provided TO THE RACES - (Left to right) Cathy Stover, Kara Kitts-McKibben, Matthew Sedam, Jason Skaggs, Antonio Stewart, and John Wright are all newcomers to the local political game, hoping to garner seats on the Kokomo Common Council.

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