New Haven candidate focusing on utilities
New Haven mayoral candidate Steve McMichael pledged Wednesday to make reforming the city’s water and sewer system a top priority if elected.
McMichael, president of the New Haven City Council, made the announcement during a news conference at Allen County Republican Headquarters in fort Wayne.
The news conference marked McMichael’s formal filing as a Republican candidate to lead the nearly 15,000-person municipality. Wednesday was the first day for candidates to file to run in this year’s city and town elections.
McMichael will face at least one, and possibly two, Republican challengers in the primary. By 4 p.m., former New Haven Police Chief Steve Poiry had also filed to run.
Bob Nelson, East Allen County Schools board president, previously said he would run but had not filed.
Candidates have until Feb. 8 to file for the May 7 primary.
When he talks with residents, McMichael said, water and sewer rates always come up, especially the impact recent rate increases have had on residents’ budgets.
New Haven gets its water and sewer service through Fort Wayne City Utilities.
“What I pledge to do on day one is to establish a committee for citizens to assess where we’re at, where we want to be going and how are we going to get there,” said McMichael, a Realtor with Imagine Real Estate in New Haven.
“The reality is that (residents) want to have a voice with what is happening.”
McMichael said he has not ruled out any options, including creating a independent utility or seeking a formal position on City Utilities’ board. However, he hasn’t taken a stance on either of those options.
“I think the community deserves to have this conversation,” he said.
McMichael said, however, he is firm on another issue. He does not support the creation of paid city manager.
“I think citizens deserve to have the person they elect (as mayor) run the day-to-day operations of the city,” he said.
McMichael, who represents the 5th District on the council and serves as mayor pro-tem, last year laid out a seven-plank platform outlining his views and vision for New Haven.
Among the ideas are growing the population to 20,000 by 2025 as a buy-in to the Road to One Million campaign of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, zero-based budgeting and creating a community engagement director position.
McMichael announced in June that he planned to run to succeed Republican Mayor Terry McDonald, who is retiring. McDonald, in his fifth term as mayor, last year endorsed McMichael.
McMichael’s campaign website (www.buildabetternewhaven.com) outlines his platform.
He will also having a fundraiser from 5 to 8 p.m. Jan. 24 at The Orchid, 11508 Lincoln Highway East, New Haven. U.S. Rep. Jim Banks is scheduled to attend.