Juergen Voss files for at-large Warsaw City Council seat

Businessman Juergen Voss has announced intentions to seek an at-large seat on the Warsaw City Council.

Voss filed election paperwork Thursday and will run against two incumbent at-large candidates,   Cindy Dobbins and Jack Wilhite, in the May 5 Republican primary.

Voss grew up in South Bend. He moved to Warsaw in about 1977 when he purchased and began operating Open Air Garden Center & Greenhouse on North Lake Street. He also owns several apartments.

He was on the Warsaw Community School Board for four years  decades ago when those positions were appointed. His appointment came from the city council. While on the school board, he served as secretary and vice president.

Voss ran twice for city council seats years ago.

He is married and his home is near Kosciusko Community Hospital.

The 65-year-old said he’s not running as a single-issue candidate and has no problem with the current at-large representatives, both of whom have filed for re-election.

“I think our city is doing very well, but I think voters should be given a choice,” Voss said.

Voss said he considers himself a fiscal conservative and said his goal is to ensure that tax dollars are spent wisely.

Being self-employed, he said, his schedule would allow him to be available to constituents and department heads.

“I think with my business experience and my education, my past experience with the Optimist Club and school board, I?really understand how the city works,” Voss said.

“I think I could be an asset. Sometimes new ideas are not bad,” he said.

Voss said he’s known Mayor Joe Thallemer as long as he’s lived in Warsaw. Both are members of the Warsaw Breakfast Optimist Club.

“I?think Joe really cares about the city. I think we’re doing a great job. We’ve had great growth,” Voss said.

But he does have a few concerns.

Voss said he believes the city is facing a housing crisis to the point where residents lured to the community with new jobs have trouble finding an affordable place to live.

He said he thinks the city needs to work with landlords and encourage more people to become landlords.

He said actions against landlords for violations on their properties can deter some from continuing to be  landlords.

“The city has taken an approach that if the property is not in perfect condition, they go after them. I think the city needs to work with landlords to make housing available,” he said.

He said he thinks the city can do more to work with landlords and mentioned the idea of providing grant money to help landowners make improvements.

“One of my top goals would be to see what the city can do about that,” he said.

While Voss said the city clearly needs to expand the sewer treatment plant, he  thinks city leaders years ago made a mistake by dismantling the old treatment plant when the existing plant was constructed.

The city is in the initial steps of revamping and expanding the existing treatment plant.

Looking back at the decision when the existing plant was constructed, Voss said, “It was a good thing to build the new one, but they could have used the old one as a pre-treatment plant.”

The city recently approved two  rate hikes to support construction of a new treatment plant. While Voss was not critical of the overall plan, he took exception to the fact that Winona Lake customers will not immediately see a rate hike.

City officials have said that Winona Lake town leaders paid a large amount of money up front when an agreement was reached with the city of Warsaw several years ago.

Voss said he thinks customers in other towns who depend on the city of Warsaw for sewer service “should pay as much or more than what Warsaw customers pay.”

The filing period for the primary concludes Feb. 8.