Jack Brunetto is ready to jump into the fray and try to overcome Republican dominance on Warsaw City Council.
The longtime Democrat, who volunteered with the campaigns of U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly and Wayne Township Trustee Shari Benyousky last year, has filed to run for city council District 5, which is currently represented by Council President Diane Quance.
In a prepared statement, the 66-year-old candidate said he thinks residents realize the differences that stand out on the national level between Democrats and Republicans don’t translate as starkly on the local level.
With that in mind, Brunetto points to one of those three Democrats who served on city council nearly 30 years ago, the late Bob Richmond. He views him as a model representative.
Republicans have controlled the seven seats on city council for more than two decades.
Brunetto said he liked Richmond’s approach.
“He was always well respected because he voted what was best for Warsaw regardless if it was Republican or Democrat and I always greatly admired that,” Brunetto said.
Brunetto retired four years ago from his job at Pacemaker Buildings in North Webster where he served as comptroller.
He’s been attending City Council and Board of Works and Safety meetings for about 18 months, learning the ins and outs of city government and the issues the city is focusing on.
He said he’s been encouraged by some, including current members of city council, to run.
“I’ve been going to them for more than a year before I ever decided,” he said. “If you don’t know what you’re getting into, why would you get into it?”
On one hand, he said, “For the most part, I think they do a really, really good job.”
But at the same time, he adds, “I think I could do as good a job as Diane.”
He said he does not intend to be there just to “upset the apple cart.”
“It is not my goal to run as an obstructionist, but to ensure the residents of the district are represented fairly,” he said in a prepared statement.
But he does have a few concerns. He objects to the times when council has moved quickly to approve requests in which they vote twice in a single meeting by using a maneuvre called “suspending the rules.”
That was the case when council needed to quickly approve a bond measure in support of a sewer project last year.
Mayor Joe Thallemer urged the council to move quickly on the issue because of time constraints.
As a general rule, Brunetto said he thinks council should avoid that practice so residents and council members can more fully understand the circumstances.
He also thinks council moved too quickly when confronted with a sewer rate hike that included a 51 percent increase for small businesses.
Officials determined that a study that was part of the sewer hike proposal indicated small businesses had been paying less in the past than what was seen as equitable.
“If they were that far undercharged when they did the study and found that out, that should have been addressed as a separate issue,” Brunetto said.
“They needed to address that a lot sooner than they did,” he said.
Brunetto also questioned the construction of a sidewalk along CR 300N on the south side of the road rather than on the north side next to Madison Elementary School.
A sidewalk on the north side, he said, would have been safer for children.
Among his roles for Benyousky was canvassing door to door. He said he’s ready to do that same for his own campaign.
“Ringing doorbells of strangers is not my favorite thing in the world, but I understand if you’re going to run as a Democrat and actually expect to win, you’re going to have to spend a whole lot of time ringing doorbells,” Brunetto said. “If possible, I’d like to go through the entire district twice.”