On Tuesday, Nov. 5th, elections will be held for all Goshen government officials.
The Goshen City Council is made up of seven common council members, five of which represent districts and two of which are members at large. Currently, three out of the five district members are Republicans and two are Democrats.
At-large members include Julia King, Democrat, and Brett Weddle, Republican, both running for re-election. The council is governed by Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman. Each member of the council is elected for a four-year term, the current term concluding Dec. 31, 2019.
City government works on the local level, creating, amending and repealing parts of the city code which governs the city. The code divides everything into seven main areas: administrative provisions, civil rights, health and public safety, motor vehicles and traffic, public works and utilities, land use and development, and recreation/contests.
The council meets every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers to discuss important issues and possible amendments to the code.
Last April, city council unanimously passed Resolution 2019-19 (also known as the Environmental Resolution). The resolution was brought to the table and promoted by youth from Goshen High School and Goshen College, who were supported by Stutsman.
Some of the highlights of the resolutions include a commitment to making Goshen carbon neutral by 2035 and increase the city’s tree canopy to 45 percent by 2045. They also formed the Department of Environmental Resilience, which will work to efficiently improve the environment and to educate youth and adults about climate change.
This resolution could not have been passed without the work of the Goshen youth representative, a relatively new position created by Stutsman. Zoe Eichorn, a senior at Goshen High School, was elected by her peers to serve as the first female youth representative.
“Most teenagers have a decent understanding of the federal government, but not much of what happens in our local government,” Eichorn said. “This lack of knowledge pushed me towards wanting to learn more.”
She will serve for one year and fully participate in all city council proceedings, however her vote will not count for any legal outcomes.
Gilberto Pérez, Jr., Goshen College’s dean of students, echoes Eichorn’s sentiment about youth participation in politics. He believes that if Goshen College students participated in local politics, they could make big changes.
“What if Goshen College students got engaged in Goshen local politics and helped city council members, plan commission members, board zoning appeals members, and redevelopment commission members understand what young people want in a city?” He said. “Goshen College students are creative and have a lot of ideas for business, intercultural relations, and education”.
Pérez is running for District 5, which is the district in which GC sits. The position is currently occupied by Democrat Adam Scharf, who is now a candidate for the role of Clerk Treasurer. Pérez is running uncontested in District 5, and has stated that he plans to continue his role as vice president for student life at Goshen College.
While campaigning, Pérez has heard from the District 5 constituents about what issues are important to them.
He said, “Many of the things I have heard while canvassing or in meetings with District 5 residents is their desire for better traffic flow, sidewalks along College Avenue, a dog park, better relationship between Goshen Health System and the Racemere Peninsula Neighborhood Association.”
Pérez cited better signage for pedestrians crossing streets, transportation for workers in the industrial park, a stronger tree canopy in District 5, diversified businesses in the industrial park, homelessness, and increased crime, as other issues concerning District 5 constituents.
In District 4, both Republican Mark A. Huser and Democrat Megan W. Eichorn are running for the seat currently occupied by Julia Gaustche, who is retiring after serving for 16 years.
In District 3, Democrat Jennifer Shell is running against Republican Matt P. Schrock and Independent Rafael Correa. Shell came to campus this past Monday to help students register to vote, and spoke about the importance of local politics.
“Voting in local elections is important for students because the decisions local government makes impact them in various ways,” Shell said. “If you live off campus and rent, the city code provides rules and regulations for land use and maintenance that landlords are required to follow.”
In District 2, Democrat Jonathan D. Neufeld is running against incumbent Republican Douglas Nisly.
In District 1, Republican Jim McKee is running uncontested.
Stutsman is seeking re-election after his first term, and is running uncontested after the death of Republican candidate Terry T. Synder in April. The Republican party reportedly did not have enough time to choose a replacement candidate in time for the primary elections that took place last May.
Before being elected mayor, Stutsman served for eight years on city council. He is a seventh-generation Goshen resident and a graduate of Goshen Community Schools and Butler University. He is the youngest mayor in Goshen’s history.
He is running on a platform of inclusivity, bipartisan cooperation, sustainability, supporting small businesses and constantly building a better community to live in.
Elections will be held on Nov. 5 with the deadline to register being Oct. 7. You can register to vote online or at the Voter Registration Office downtown.