Local Democrats push for Municipal elections to return to Nappanee
NAPPANEE, Ind. - It's been nine years since the last city election in Nappanee. Republicans have been the controlling party in the area for all that time. So much so that Democrats have left most races uncontested leading to a vote to cancel elections by election officials in the last two municipal election cycles. Now, local Democrats are trying to change that trend.
"Sad. You're just sad," said longtime Nappanee resident and granddaughter of Nappanee's last Democratic mayor Erin Garl. "You hope for more diversity because in my view, diversity will bring you more growth."
Democratic leaders said they want to push for that diversity in the Nappanee Wakarusa area by starting the Advancing Community Together (ACT) Nappanee Wakarusa Democratic Club. The club's goal is two-fold help spread the goal of the Democratic Party, and get more candidates on the ballot so that Nappanee can start voting for its city leaders again.
"Approaching the 2020 election season, we wanted to spread the Democratic message in as many places as possible," said Kosciusko County Democratic Party Chairman Brian Smith. "Nappanee and Wakarusa (are) area(s) of the second Congressional District that we haven't been as active in in the past, and we wanted to change that this year and connect with folks in those communities and to share our message and to grow our party."
Elkhart County Republican Chairman Dan Holtz, not available for an interview said in a phone call that Indiana Democrats must get a voice in their national party before they can put forward effective candidates in Nappanee. Elkhart County Democratic Chairman Chad Crabtree said that voice is already there.
"I am proud of our national voice in Joe Biden," Crabtree said. "I don't know if other Republicans can say that about theirs."
Organizers for ACT Nappanee Wakarusa said the goal is not just to expand the party but also get more people to the polls.
"There are community captains in Nappanee Wakarusa area who are going through our voter system looking for scores of progressive voters and giving them a call if they haven't voted in a while, if they missed an election, to remind them to vote, to encourage them to vote," Crabtree said.
ACT Nappanee Wakarusa is a Democratic Club and not a city party which means it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Elkhart or Kosciusko County Democratic Parties. It also is not required to have regular business meetings, but it can eventually morph into a city party down the road if members decide that is the best course of action. Club leadership would have to adapt bylaws for that to happen. Until then, the goal for the club remains getting candidates on the ballot so Nappanee can have a city election again in 2023.